Kiss of Life
3 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
Kiss of Life With a dreamlike approach to her themes and story, first-timer Young takes a surreal and sensitive look at the bonds of love. In London, Helen (Dapkunaite) is trying to hold her family together while her husband John (Mullan) is in a remote corner of Bosnia working for a relief agency. Her surly teen daughter (Findlay) and bratty little-brother son (Martin) are feuding, while her father (Warner) seems stunned by the weight of years. She wishes her husband could come home ... and he senses this, so begins a difficult journey across Europe. The hitch is that Helen has just been injured in a serious accident and has to face all this from beyond consciousness--is she dead or in a coma? Does she even know?

Young weaves these parallel stories beautifully, editing between the real world and the subconscious longings of all five characters with lyrical artistry that draws us in and triggers emotional responses as we recognise familiar experiences and feelings. The film has an intriguingly driving narrative, and yet it's also ethereal and gritty at the same time. The editing is both fluid and jarring, cutting between the family's bewilderment, Helen's serene presence and John's epic journey as he meets various people along the way who seem to speak for Helen. This bizarre structure somehow cuts through to give us an emotionally resonant examination of the unpredictability of life. And the connections between these characters go far beyond physical presence! It helps that the entire cast rises to the challenge--the script is sparse with dialog, leaving the actors' faces to convey their thoughts and feelings. Dapkunaite is a powerful, almost angelic presence; and Mullan is superb as always, taking us with him along the road. And it's powerful stuff, a cinematic poem that brushes against the ironies of families/refugees in a multi-cultural world. There's also an impending, hopeful urgency as the story builds to a resolution. Yes, it's very strange, but it's also lovely, evocative and very moving if you let it inside you.

cert 12tbc adult themes, some violence 22.Sep.03

dir-scr Emily Young
with Peter Mullan, Ingeborga Dapkunaite, David Warner, James E Martin, Millie Findlay, Gemma Jones, Marinko Prga, Barbara Rocco, Ivan Bijuk, Dragica Sreckovic, Elizabeth Powell, Rosie Wiggins
release UK 2.Jan.04
BBC Films
03/UK 1h26

See you in my dreams: Mullan and Dapkunaite.

mullan warner
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2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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