The Last Kiss Review

A wedding is the cue for some serious soul-searching in The Last Kiss, which opens with what looks like domestic contentment, with Michael (Zach Braff) and Jenna (Jacinda Barrett) announcing to her parents (Tom Wilkinson and Blythe Danner) that she is pregnant. As they break open a bottle of warm champagne to celebrate, Michael looks off into the distance and then to Jenna's parents and wonders if such a life is what he wants. Does he, in fact, actually have any say in it or is his life already mapped out? At the wedding of a friend, he leaves the ceremony to spend a little time on his own but meets Kim (Rachel Bilson) who, as they flirt with one another, offers him something unexpected. At that very moment, on the verge of turning thirty, it is all that he could ask for.

As he wonders about risking everything for one night with Kim, each one of his friends is suffering their own minor crisis. Izzy (Michael Weston) is still hurting from his breakup with Arianna (Marley Shelton), whilst Chris (Casey Affleck) is struggling in his relationship with Lisa (Lauren Lee Smith), feeling that the birth of their son Matthew has left them unable to cope. Meanwhile, Eric spends a night doing what he's always done, having athletic sex with a beautiful girl but is shocked when she wants to introduce him to her parents the next evening. As all of this goes on, Michael sits outside of Kim's apartment with her number still in his mobile phone wondering if he ought to call. Jenna, on the other hand, sits at home.

Coldplay appear on the soundtrack late in The Last Kiss - it's Warning Sign from the A Rush Of Blood To The Head album - being a statement worth making as there's no better way of summarising this film than to say that it's a Coldplay kind of movie. Sensitive, a little morose and tending towards much nattering about feelings, one can well imagine Coldplay fitting nicely into the background at a dinner party where the characters in The Last Kiss are enjoying a meal. One suspects that there would be as many things left unsaid over that evening as there are here, showing the irony in having a verbose, intelligent cast unable to explain quite how they feel.

Fitting neatly into the particular niche carved by Mike Bullen during his time writing Cold Feet, The Last Kiss features an attractive cast of late-twentysomethings fretting about their lives, their relationships and their futures, all the while enjoying the stray moments of good luck that come their way. And like Cold Feet, they are fantastically self-absorbed, sinking into gloomy introspection almost as quickly as they catch a scent of the change from being young to being in one's thirties. The irony in The Last Kiss is that inasmuch as the characters hold out against the tide of typical thirtysomething events - marriage, having children and growing ever closer to one's parents - they are guilty of falling for every cliche that comes with a refusal to settle down.

Michael, being the guy who's suddenly faced with having to raise a family, does what so many in the same situation have done before him in that he climbs into the bed of another and much younger woman. Jenna, though much more blameless as regards the falling apart of their relationship, rushes into motherhood with abandon, all the while failing to notice that her boyfriend is undergoing a late-twenties crisis. Similarly, Eric does what millions of men have done before him after enjoying a apparently uncomplicated night with an incredible woman who then mentions meeting her parents. He runs away, first to a bar and then, though less frequent this side of the Atlantic, to Mexico. Again, Izzy is typical of a film such as this, one who has some fine moments of comedy but is otherwise unable to get over the breaking up of his last relationship.

What saves The Last Kiss from being entirely without merit is the easygoing way that actors Zach Braff and Casey Affleck take to their roles, one for showing how much it takes to threaten a long relationship whilst the other is convincing in his showing how tiring and how difficult being a father actually is at times. One particular scene presents this better than anywhere else in the film, showing Chris taking Matthew for the weekend and just spending time with him, his son's dummy falling out of his mouth but sleeping on. That one image is a perfect picture of domestic contentment, not so much for its saying that a happy home life comes with what we expect from a family but that happiness can arise even when situations look very bleak. If The Last Kiss says anything, it's that forgiveness and understanding are as much a part of romance as love. It is something that Tom Wilkinson's character makes an effort to express but words fail him. Thankfully, in its saving grace, the film allows the final moments of Chris, Michael, Eric and Izzy to say what he cannot.


Though not looking at all bad when the film is actually playing, during the pre-title sequence and the end credits, The Last Kiss shows up a lot of noise in the background of the image that comes and goes depending on how brightly lit the scene is. During the wedding, for example, which takes place at a bright-lit beachside setting, the DVD does look very good but much less so during Michael's nighttime drives to Kim's apartment. Reasonably sharp and with good reproduction of the muted colours, this isn't bad but gives only a decent of the film rather than an outstanding one.

The audio track, given the talky nature of the piece, is very good in the sense that it offers a dialogue a clear stage from which to be heard but, nonetheless, makes scant use of the rear channels. However, one shouldn't have expected that it would with the DVD doing well to keep the dialogue in the centre speaker and using the front left and right channels to give it space depending on the location of the characters. More than that, though, it sounds very warm, which gives the film a homely feel that it needs to keep the writing within some kind of frame of reality.


Commentaries: There are two here and they're both very enjoyable, chatty affairs, one of which features Zach Braff and director Tony Goldwyn alone and the other with Jacinta Barrett, Rachel Bilson, Michael Weston and Eric Christian Olsen joining them. Even with there being the star and the director, the track is frequently very funny - an early highlight has Zach Braff saying that the boy in the Dreamworks logo is actually him aged 12 answering to a call from Steven Spielberg - and though not particularly informative, it sounds very relaxed and suggests that Braff and Goldwyn had a good working relationship. The second commentary does see the cast and director shouting over one another to be heard as well as some very odd silences, which become less frequent the longer the film goes on. It isn't, in spite of the bigger cast, any more entertaining but still has its moments.

The Last Kiss Documentary: This is broken into four sections, which begins with the director and producer being interviewed about the origins of the film and it being adapted from the Italian L'Ultimo Bacio in Filmmakers' Perspective (2m33s) whereas the much longer Getting Together (26m43) sees the main cast and crew discussing getting the film into production, its making and the casting of the actors and their thoughts on their characters. Behind Our Favourite Scenes (8m57s) continues this particular thread, with the cast, particularly Zach Braff, talking about the parts of the movie they liked best and why that was so. Finally, this part of the disc ends with Last Thoughts (3m27s) that sees producer Gary Lucchesi and the cast give their final thoughts on the film. There is nothing unexpected in this - the general feeling seems to be that it's alright to say that people make mistakes in their relationships - but it's a decent way to end this making-of, one that has very good moments in between some very ordinary ones.

Deleted Scenes (13m59s): Anyone who thought that the Bachelor Party Scene in the main film was a little short for anything that featured lesbian sex will be glad of this in which the two stars of that scene get a little more time onscreen. Whilst not adding very much else to the film, these simply draw out more of the plot and the characters, such as some more naive chatter from Kim (Rachel Bilson), a late-night phone call between Izzy and Arianna and more conflict between Chris and Lisa over the feeding of Matthew.

Finally, there is a Trailer (2m26s), a Music Video (3m16s) for the Cary Brothers' Ride, which is directed and introduced by Zach Braff, and a Gag Reel (2m41s).

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Last updated: 19/04/2018 03:15:35

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