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aka - Un Baiser S'il Vous Plait
France 2007
Directed by
Emmanuel Mouret
96 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Sharon Hurst
3.5 stars

Shall We Kiss?

When asked about the inspiration for his film, director Emmanuel Mouret said he wanted to explore whether there is such a thing as a kiss without consequences. He also wanted to explore desire, and how to experience it without hurting others. Shall We Kiss? is, in other words, quintessentially French.

Elegant Parisienne Emilie (Julie Gayet) is visiting Nantes, where she is offered a lift to her hotel by a stranger, Gabriel (Michael Cohen). After sharing a delightful evening he is about to kiss her goodnight, when she pulls back and tells him a story of why she has refused the kiss. Thus begins a story within a story, that of Emilie’s friend, Judith (Virginie Ledoyen), who was married to Claudio (Stefano Accorsi), but who had a best friend and confidante, Nicolas (Emmanuel Mouret). Then one day she kissed him and what should have been a simple kiss led to a passionate affair.

Ordinarily I think the character of Nicolas would have driven me nuts. He is awkward and clumsy, almost child-like in some ways, and yet the way Mouret develops him both in the scripting and acting is convincing and engaging. The deliberate use of self-conscious awkwardness is a device that lends a lot of humour to the bizarre situation in which the two friends find themselves. Their initial awkward tryst is filmed in a deliberately clinical style and it comes across as funny. And yet as the passion developed I was led to seriously ponder the nature of desire and its place in friendship and marriage. After all, so much of mainstream film treats sex in a very basic way, without leading one to even contemplate the mystery of attraction that is often inexplicable.

Ultimately the story is a bit like fairy floss – sweet and ephemeral. However it is cleverly presented plot wise, with a wonderful revelation right at the end, which lets everything fall into place gracefully. I must admit, however, that as we cut between the main story of Judith and Nicolas, I found myself wanting a bit more of the Gabriel/Emilie story – perhaps there is scope for a sequel??

DVD Extras: Theatrical trailer; Teasers; Stills Gallery

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Available from: Umbrella Entertainment




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