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Just A Kiss

The Moments That Make History

"This is going to be one of those mistakes that you really wish you could take back". That's what Dog (Ron Eldard) says to his best friend's girl right after they first kiss. You know there and then that he's right, of course, but since when has that ever stopped anyone? In this clever ensemble piece by writer Patrick Breen and director Fisher Stevens, that kiss, and the one night stand that it leads to, sets off a chain of events that leads inexorably to disaster for everyone involved. Or at least it kind of does, but more about that later.

Just A Kiss is a brilliant little exploration of the effect that lies and infidelity have on relationships. Part comedy, part drama, part satire, you never quite know where it's going to go next. The movie follows the domino effect produced among a loosely connected web of friends living in New York City by the disclosure of that one-night stand. It does a good job of showing the incestuous nature of interconnected groups of friends in big cities (the six degrees of separation theory taken to its logical extreme) and the importance of coincidence in people's lives. One event or meeting leads to another and boom, before you know it, you're dressed up as a nurse helping the girlfriend of the man you have a crush on to commit suicide on a hospital gurney. Or walking away unharmed from a plane crash only to die in the most stupid way imaginable a few moments later. It's messy and complicated, and does a better job than any movie in years of capturing the chaos and uncertainty that is the modern dating landscape.

The film features some particularly cool visual effects via the use of rotomotion, a technique in which live action film is animated, allowing the filmmakers to highlight important things - Marisa Tomei's eyes glow like a cat, blood flows from a slit wrist in vibrant color. The script has some of the best dialogue in years - no surprise, since it was written by an actor (Patrick Breen, who also stars in the film). It's funny as hell, but funny in a particularly dark and twisted way. The characters are variously self-obsessed and fucked up, just like the rest of us, and even the weirdest of them ring true (with the gold star going to Marisa Tomei as the world's most charming psychopathic stalker). The only caveats are a somewhat contrived plot twist towards the end which comes off as kind of a cop-out and which some viewers might find hard to swallow, and a tendency to be rather too clever for its own good at the box office. How many viewers out there in multiplex land will get the joke about the selfish Dog being named after the great humanist poet Dag Hammershold?

But these are minor complaints. Just A Kiss is a modern urban fairytale with a twist, a movie about relationships and the god-awful mess that most of us make of them. It's not always pretty, but then again, neither is the real thing. Overall the movie is quirky and original and full of surprises, which is more than you can say about most of the formulaic drek filling the theatres recently. Just don't go with a date unless you enjoy discussing romance's dirty underbelly.


Just A Kiss
Rated R
1 hour 29 minutes

Marisa Tomei
Kyra Sedgwick
Taye Diggs
Ron Eldard
Marley Shelton