Wednesday, September 13, 2006
The Last Kiss
I just got back from a promotional screening of the new Zach Braff (of "Scrubs" and "Garden State" fame) movie "The Last Kiss" (official site is here). It was an interesting movie, and having only seen a trailer for it on Apple, it turned out to be a little bit different than I expected - I was under the impression the film would be a romantic comedy, but most of the movie would probably fit under the category of regular drama.
For those unfamiliar with the film's premise, the story revolves around relationship of Michael (Zach Braff) and Jenna (Jacinda Barrett), who we learn about in the first 10 minutes of the movie are a couple who's been dating for over 3 years and is now expecting a baby.
Narration by Michael lets us know that while he has every reason to be happy - a nice GF, a long term relationship, a nice job as an architect - he's beginning to feel trapped by the predictability of his mundane life and feels like there's something missing. When Michael meets a beautiful young college student named Kim (Rachel Bilson) at a friend's wedding, a conversation with Kim seems to fill that void... but Michael's interest in Kim conflicts of course with his relationship with Jenna...
Integral to Michael's feelings for Jenna and Kim are the movie's other couples. Michael and Jenna's relationship is juxtaposed against the relationships of the minor characters, especially the relationship of Michael's good friend Chris (Casey Affleck) and his wife (who already have a baby and are struggling to get along), and the troubled marriage of Jenna's parents, Anna (Blythe Danner) and Stephen (Tom Wilkinson). Even the two "comic relief" characters, Michael's friends, Kenny and Izzy, suffer from dysfunctional relationships... Kenny only seems to relate to women via pure physical attraction (AKA sex) and Izzy can't seem to get over the fact that he was dumped by his high school sweetheart.
While the love triangle of Michael-Jenna-Kim is central to the movie, the excellent and interesting performances by the surrounding characters helps to complement the recurring themes of the movie - love & relational dysfunctionality. Characters are shown in a fairly sympathetic light, and even at their worst, the message of the movie comes across in a non-preachy way:
People are human beings, and human beings are emotional creatures who are prone to making mistakes, especially in regards to dealing with each other.
In my opinion the movie wasn't perfect, but I felt it was successful in a lot of good ways, especially in its characterizations and depiction of relationships (the future Mrs. saw it with me and remarked about the dysfunctionality, "It's almost too much reality").
Ultimately, whether or not people will like The Last Kiss probably depends on if they're fans of Zach Braff and can sympathize with the very Western, very young and male, quarter-life crisis that his character Michael is going through (Zach actually some interesting stuff to say about the movie on his own website; definitely worth checking out). During the times that Zach Braff's character is staring off into space, it's up to the audience to determine what exactly is going through his head - those interested in the movie will empathize with Michael's own personal crisis while those bored by the movie will probably ended up hating every awkward sequence of Michael zoning out.
Of course, being a fan of Zach Braff myself and being an older 20-something all too familiar with the pains of the quarter-life crisis (did John Mayer really coin this term?), I enjoyed "The Last Kiss". .. though given the serious drama of the movie, I wonder how commercially successful it'll be with the unwashed masses who are expecting a couple of hours of Scrubs-type comedy or The OC-type bubble gum teen drama, whose episodes often end in ways that are much more tidy than "The Last Kiss" ambiguous end.
Regardless, best wishes to Mr. Braff & company. I hope the movie does well and some more folks get out to see it.
On a somewhat related note:
One of my favorite songs by fantastic singer-songwriter Rachael Yamagata is featured on the movie's soundtrack ("Reason Why"). wh00t.
The full movie soundtrack listing is here.
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