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The Last Kiss


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If you like watching men wallow in their maleness and doing the sometimes nonsensical things guys do, you'll love The Last Kiss, a well-acted dramedy about men dealing with their innermost flaws, shortcomings and immaturities. But to be fair, the film is really deeper and more substantial than that. Adapted for American audiences from the 2002 Italian coming-of-age film L'Ultimo Bacio, The Last Kiss deals with other such heady topics as relationships, turning 30, dealing with temptations, and various and sundry other aspects of human behavior and curiosities.

Thanks to extraordinary performances by an ensemble cast and a smart script by Paul Haggis who also wrote last year's Best Picture Oscar winner Crash, The Last Kiss has plenty for everyone. Male viewers will naturally connect with the scenarios of despicable behavior we've either witnessed or experienced in real life, females will find comfort in the story's messages of love and commitment, and the older crowd can revel in the brilliant turns by Tom Wilkinson and Blythe Danner.

Zach Braff is Michael, a 29 year-old architect with a beautiful girlfriend, Jenna (Jacinda Barrett), whom he loves but isn't quite ready to marry. When informed that Jenna is pregnant, Michael pushes the panic button and acts upon the advances of Kim, an assertive little college cutey in the form of The O.C.'s Rachel Bilson. Michael's afraid of his life becoming predictable, and Kim seems to want nothing more than to explore her wild side the perfect formula for conflict.

Haggis' screenplay walks a perfect line between a yuk-filled bachelor party film and a saccharin-sprinkled romantic comedy. It's often funny, sometimes sexy, but always downright prickly with the realities of life's challenges. While this year's The Break-Up experienced success with its uniquely bleak exploration into the nature of relationships, it never really delved much deeper than a few inches below the surface. Conversely, The Last Kiss exposes the raw nerves of what happens when relationships falter. Without hammering us over the head with the message, we see what it's like to turn a major corner in life while maintaining a sense of youthfulness. Haggis presents deeply flawed characters while handling them in a very compassionate and humane manner.

The scenario we've seen hundreds of times before, and the subject matter is certainly not original in fact, been explored ad nauseam. But where The Last Kiss excels is in the magical way the cast comes together to create such well-rounded, multi-dimensional characters that we truly believe in. Credit director Tony Goldwyn (A Walk on the Moon), whose acting background shows in the way he's able to get such brilliant performances from everyone involved. From Braff's Michael who we love despite his oftentimes selfish behavior, to his abhorrent buddies who are experiencing their own relationship crises, to Jenna's mom and dad played by Danner and Wilkinson respectively, there's not a single character that fails to resonate with the audience. They all have faults and fall to life's temptations (some more than others), but it's how they deal with it and the lessons they teach us that are ultimately important. That we see a little of our own faltering selves in these characters gives us some sort of primordial connection to the message.


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