FILM REVIEW: Shall We Kiss?

This charming French comedy of manners explores the nuances of friendship, love and desire through the devise of a story within a story.
FILM REVIEW: Shall We Kiss?
This charming French comedy of manners explores the nuances of friendship, love and desire through the devise of a story within a story. Director Emmanuel Mouret engages the audience through the potent attraction between two strangers meeting in a provincial town. Michael Cohen portrays superbly the yearning Gabriel, whose request for a farewell kiss is refused by Emilie (Julie Gayet). By way of explanation Emilie recounts the story of Judith, her husband Claudio and her friend Nicolas, and the devastating effect of one kiss on all their lives. Relationships between these three develop in sometimes predictable ways but always with a delicate depiction of the awkward and humorous moments present even in intense passion. Placing Judith’s story within the framework of the obvious attraction between Gabriel and Emilie, allows the viewer to follow the trio with an almost objective enjoyment. We are left in suspense as to the outcome of Gabriel’s request until the very end of the film when the connection between the two stories is only revealed in a satisfying twist. Mouret uses image and sound to underline the subtleties of his plot. Much of the action takes place in Judith and Claudio’s austere, monotone apartment, where the only splash of colour is provided by the painting of a phallic-billed toucan that watches from the bedroom wall during the first tentative seduction scene. In the laboratory where Judith works, moments of illicit passion explode before the backdrop of either warning signs for inflammable and potentially lethal substances or a poster identifying poisonous mushrooms. The musical score, drawn from Tchaikovsky ballets, ranges from the light-hearted Waltz of the Flowers in moments of joyous fantasy, through the swelling emotion of the pas de deux from the second act of Swan Lake, to the precision of the Dance of the Little Swans. This use of music from ballets with a fairytale quality suggests that Mouret sees the interplay of relationships in a similar light. The neatness with which both stories are connected certainly bears a similarity to the tight choreography of classical ballet. http://www.perthfestival.com.au/lotterywestfestivalfilms/shallwekiss/

Trisha Kotai-Ewers

Friday 23 January, 2009

About the author

Trisha Kotai-Ewers is a reviewer for Arts Hub.