The Last Kiss is a brave and thought-provoking reflection on the inescapable truth of love: it’s about growing up. Writer Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby) and director Tony Goldwyn’s adaptation from the Italian romantic comedy L’Ultimo Bacio addresses the growing societal issue of men and women who can’t seem to settle down, and those who unhappily have, departing from the farcical and capricious genre and entering the realms of a “dramedy.”
Michael (Zach Braff) appears to have his life laid out for him. He has, almost, a perfect life: a strong relationship with his loving girlfriend Jenna (Jacinda Barrett), a successful job in an architectural firm, and a tight-knit group of friends.
With a baby on the way, it would seem that marriage would be the very next step. Jenna insists that happy, lasting couples do exist, citing her parents’ (Tom Wilkinson and Blythe Danner) marriage and the life-long mating habits of birds.
Although growing evidence does suggest the higher intelligence of our avian friends, Jenna’s faith in her parents proves to be nothing more than dramatic irony.
Convincingly portrayed by Wilkinson and Danner, the couple’s formerly passionate relationship has been on the rocks for some time.
Stubborn bickering between the two will elicit laughs, yet you will wish you hadn’t anything to laugh at in the first place.On the verge of his own premature crisis, Michael feels trapped. A marriage would mean no more surprises – less excitement. Safety may just equal boredom.
Witnessing the disaster of a marriage full of constant fighting and baby feedings that his best friend Chris (Casey Affleck) has found himself in only scares Michael further.
Enter Kim, a gorgeous and flirtatious college student (Rachel Bilson) whom Michael meets at a friend’s wedding, of all places. Temptation ensues and, for the sake of plot, conquers.
Don’t expect to see a reincarnation of Braff’s character in Garden State. Michael’s decisions throughout the movie may lead one to question why Jenna and Kim are attracted to him in the first place, which is somewhat of a plot hole.
The only similarity in this movie is the soundtrack, yet again flawlessly compiled by Braff, including artists such as Coldplay, Imogen Heap, Aimee Mann, Remy Zero, and Snow Patrol.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle in fully relishing this film is its startling lack of escapism. We as movie-goers take for granted a film maker’s choice of idealizing situation and plot.
In this way, The Last Kiss and its characters are not sugar coated. Expect to be a little unnerved by the realism.
The conflicts in The Last Kiss, just like in real life, have no quick fix. It may sting a little. The brutally honest portrayals of loss and aimlessness may leave even the hopeless romantic slightly deflated.
If you enter the theatre a pessimist, you are by no means leaving an optimist. If you happen to be an optimist despite the throes of love- well, more power to you.
It would take a stubborn, iron will to leave the theatre and not question past or even current relationships.
Brazenly honest, this film reminds us all that before we can truly grow, we must first make mistakes, however heartbreaking they may prove to be.