The Last Kiss
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Tony Goldwyn
scr Paul Haggis
with Zach Braff, Jacinda Barrett, Rachel Bilson, Blythe Danner, Tom Wilkinson, Casey Affleck, Michael Weston, Eric Christian Olsen, Lauren Lee Smith, Cindy Sampson, Harold Ramis, Marley Shelton
release US 15.Sep.06,
UK 20.Oct.06
06/US DreamWorks 1h44

Treehouse of temptation: Bilson and Braff

danner wilkinson affleck

[L'Ultimo Bacio]

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The Last Kiss Goldwyn and Haggis astutely remake the Italian ensemble comedy about different aspects of relationships. Their version is entertaining and insightful, but the shift from comedy to melodrama is a bit drastic.

Michael (Braff) is getting extremely serious with his girlfriend Jenna (Barrett), which causes him to panic when he's tempted by the flirty, young Kim (Bilson). His three friends are all in different places: Chris (Affleck) has a nagging wife (Smith) and a baby son, Izzy (Weston) has just broken up with the love of his life, and Kenny (Olsen) is enjoying his empty romp with a girl (Sampson) he's just met. Meanwhile, Jenna's parents (Danner and Wilkinson) are struggling to keep their 30-year marriage together.

Standouts in the cast are Wilkinson and Danner, who bring a wonderful sense of steely brittleness to their characters. Affleck is excellent as the slightly sidelined Chris, while Weston and Olsen make the most of their even more one-dimensional roles. We don't expect every character to be fully rounded, but for an ensemble film, this feels oddly like a star vehicle.

It's all clearly focussed on Braff, who fortunately is a strong enough actor to carry the weight of it all, delivering a sympathetic performance even when Michael does some seriously stupid things. Barrett's character is so underwritten that we never get much of a true balance on their relationship, but Braff has enough sheer screen presence to carry us through.

The oddest thing here is the extreme shift in tone from beginning to end. The film opens as a snappy, witty and surprisingly sexy look at relationships, as we meet the characters and see their different approaches to romance and commitment, their expectations and fears. It's genuinely funny and telling, and thoroughly engaging, even as it introduces shadows and more serious elements to each plot thread. But by the end, the humour is gone completely and the film feels like an overemotional slog, becoming hugely sentimentalised at the end. But it's also bracingly realistic in the way it vividly shows the hard work that must go into any relationship.

cert 15 themes, language, sexuality 11.Aug.06

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... The Last Kiss xavier, texas: 4.5/5 "great review. i like how you mention every charater and looked at the dramatically effect turn the movie takes, and how zach braff is a strong enough actor to carry the roller coaster movie." (13.Sep.06)
2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall