Kissed Review

There are few films that cause one to pause and consider what it is that one might be presented with but Kissed is one such feature. Indeed, it is one that has garnered a level of fame for its sympathetic portrayal of a necrophiliac, a sexual obsession that had previously only been seen in films that existed on the border between horror and pornography such as Nekromantik (and its sequel) and Corpse Fucking Art. The reputation it gathered saw it welcomed into cinemas and to some level of success, albeit that enjoyed by a typical independent film. The last eleven years have not dimmed its power to shock and to impress with the tenderness with which it portrays necrophilia, which is realised as not only a fascination with the dead and the sexual overtones that come with intimate contact with the recently deceased but as a love affair between a young woman and the dead that she so wishes to send on their way out of this world with a sexual and very final flourish.

Directed by Lynne Stopkewich and based on Barbara Gowdy's We So Seldom Look On Love, Kissed stars Molly Parker as Sandra Larson who, as a child, devises elaborate funerals for the dead animals that she finds into the countryside. An odd and lonely girl, Sandra finds some company with an equally strange girl but even she baulks at these rituals when Sandra undresses to her underwear, celebrates the passing of a dead creature and, finding her hands covered in blood, has her first period. The silence that greets Sandra when she returns home to her mother, who, having been told, now knows what her daughter as doing in the forest, forces her to keep her interest in the dead a secret even from those that she had trusted. Years later and enrolled as a student, Sandra studies embalming and under the guise of developing her university work, she takes a job at a mortuary where, very tenderly, she readies the dead for burial or cremation. Gradually, her feelings of sexual desire return but her quiet life amongst the dead is complicated by her affair with medical student Matt (Peter Outerbridge), who, the closer he gets to Sandra, wants to understand her obsession, even to being a part of her love affairs with the dead.

No matter how well one might describe the film, there lingers a sense that Kissed will be a sexually explicit tale of one woman's obsession with the dead. As though not to disappoint, there is a sex scene between Sandra and the corpse of a handsome young man but this is an odd break from the poetry of the film, one that is much more concerned with understanding Sandra Larson at two key points in her life than actually showing her naked and atop the dead. In this, Kissed in often very successful with Stopkewich portraying an emptiness in her film that reflects the same emptiness in Sandra's life, of a love that can only ever be unrequited. The opening strangeness gives way to loneliness and, in her relationship with Matt, an acknowledgement that it will be forever so for Sandra and that no matter how willing the partner, she will return to the dead. However, the longer the film goes on, and it isn't a very long film at only seventy-five minutes, the more predictable it becomes. Granted that is something of a skewed sense of the obvious in which one comes to know what will occur between a necrophiliac and her smitten boyfriend but it is predictable nonetheless. That is not to damn a strikingly original film that remains so over a decade since its release but only to note that while it is often very tenderly told, it offers few surprises once the viewer is attuned to it. In the manner in which it brings the story of Sandra Larson to the screen, it may appeal only to those who will endear themselves to a character study of a woman who can be very warm and loving to the dead but noticeably less so to the living. But it is a rewarding story for that and almost unique in its intention.


Clearly an independent film not only in terms of its subject matter and its production but in its look, Kissed is, at first, bright and richly-coloured but becomes noticeably darker as it goes on. The later scenes set in Matt's apartment, in the coffee house where he and Sandra meet and in the mortuary seem oppressive when compared to how Kissed presents Sandra's childhood but the DVD handles both ably, looking much better in the first part of the film but, then again, having a much prettier setting to work from. However, presented in 4:3, this is not the aspect ratio of 1.66:1 that Kissed was, if the various online sources are correct, originally shown in. Although the print is generally clean and it looks to be reasonably encoded, this DVD would appear to be let down by sourcing a fullscreen print. Otherwise, the DD2.0 makes a change from the usual Tartan inclusion of both DD5.1 and DTS but given the nature of the film, any remixing into a surround soundtrack would not be very much more than window dressing this release. Kissed being so dependent on the dialogue between Matt and Sandra, the majority of the sound is fixed firmly ahead of the viewer with the dialogue sounding clear even in amongst the tiles and steel of the mortuary rooms. Finally, there are no subtitles.


The only extra on the disc is the Original Trailer (2m18s)

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