Thursday, Sept 28, 2006
I've been thinking about my life lately, and everything feels pretty planned out. There's no more surprises.
The 06 TIFF is long over but upon this second viewing of The Last Kiss away from the festival, the film maintains its quirky charm and insouciance. The laughs are present as ever - but with a different audience in a different theatre where the seats were not packed to the rafters the experience is quite different. Akin to the headspin that was I Heart Huckabees which had the festival crowd rollicking from the get-go, The Last Kiss garnered a more of a hmmmm reaction. [Just wait until Stranger Than Fiction comes out]. On the heels of Garden State, Zach Braff has left his imprint all over this film - from his zany Scrubs like expressions to his the soundtrack of his life imprinted on the film. In Garden State, he featured the au courant Shins and Iron and Wine as backdrops to his quirky adventures and romance with Natalie Portman; here in The Last Kiss, with Imogen Heap it's a game of Hide and Seek and what the hell is going on.
On the verge of turning thirty, Michael and his longtime friends are facing anxious moments as they dare face growing up. Michael has the life he envisioned - a good job, still best friends with the guys he grew up with and in love with a beautiful girlfriend - life is just as he pictured - and at dinner she is about to deliver the good news to her parents : she is going to have a baby. Michael is the envy of his friends - Jenna is beautiful, perfect and just like a guy. Everyone around him and their relationships are falling apart - a co-worker at the architecture firm is married with a new baby - what was supposed to kickstart their marriage is tearing them apart. Another friend is a pathetic mess who still pines for for ex-sweetheart. The bartender has casual sex with a new girl almost every night and nearly becomes ensnared by a girl into meeting her parents. So no wonder Michael feels trapped. "There are no more surprises."
At their friend's wedding he panics his way into the charms of young Kim who has come with her three school chums. The winsome junior college student, the long haired brunette Kim [Rachel Bilson] notices Michael and strikes up a flirty conversation with Michael [Zach Braff]- setting off a chain of events that spell the end of his idealized life and three year engagement to Jenna [Jacinda Barrett].
Michael and Kim make small talk easily - Kim does most of the chatting and he falls for her easy charms. They meet up later days after the wedding at a coffee shop. As he drives her home, he admits, "You make me feel 10 years younger." "Good, I'm dating a younger man."
Shallow and self-absorbed is he? A jerk is he? The fact there are no more surprises left in his life, the seeming finality of it all has Michael scared and panicked.
"I could be your last chance for happiness," she whispers in his ear. And thus precipiates Michael's perilous decline. The script adaptation by Paul Haggis [director and writer of Academy Award winner Crash] of the original Italian version dictates that people's lives bump and collide, that actions have consequences and for Michael to untangle himself from his mess will demand whatever it takes to hold on to the one good thing he had.