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The Last Kiss - Review

The Last Kiss

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio Commentary By Zach Braff And Director Tony Goldwyn; Audio Commentary By Zach Braff, Tony Goldwyn And Cast Members Jacinda Barrett, Rachel Bilson, Michael Weston And Eric Christian Olsen; Behind The Scenes Feature (40 Minutes); Deleted/Extended Scenes, Including An Alternate Ending; Carey Brothers ‘Ride’ Music Video; Gag Reel; Theatrical Trailer.

FINDING emotional honesty in romantic comedy-drama is a neat trick that very few films manage to pull off. So many employ exaggerated situations to drive the story along while also reverting to formula for the inevitable feelgood finale.

The Last Kiss is different because it’s both realistic and refreshingly devoid of clunky sentiment. What’s more, it also has the power to provoke some difficult conversations afterwards.

Michael (Zach Braff) seems to have it all – from successful career and loyal friends to beautiful girlfriend Jenna (Jacinda Barrett). But while she’s contemplating marriage and children, Michael is experiencing a crisis of confidence and is tempted into one last fling with Kim (Rachel Bilson), a young college girl he meets at a friend’s wedding.

The people around him are also experiencing their own difficulties. Best friend Chris (Casey Affleck), for instance, has found that fatherhood has placed a strain on his relationship and wants to get out, while even his prospective mother-in-law (Blythe Danner) is striving to rekindle an old romance after becoming bored with her repressed husband (Tom Wilkinson).

What’s particularly refreshing about this melting pot, however, is that not every situation works out happily ever after and there’s a price to be paid for some of the indiscretions.

Every character is a flawed human being, prone to making mistakes and doing things that are unlikeable. Yet while they could have struggled to attract any sympathy, the material is so strong that viewers will find themselves rooting for the protagonists no matter how shocking their actions become.

Braff’s Michael, in particular, is guilty of making several stupid decisions but is saved by the obvious remorse and self-loathing he displays thereafter, making him something of an endearing soul. While Wilkinson’s repressed father is equally sympathetic as a man who comes to realise his casual neglect for his wife’s needs almost when it’s too late.

Both actors are brilliant, expertly tapping into the insecurity and frustration of their situations in a manner that viewers may even identify with – or at least know someone who does.

The Last Kiss is actually a remake of Gabriele Muccino’s 2001 Italian film, L’Ultimo Bacio, that’s been expertly re-written by Paul (Crash) Haggis with a little help from Braff (who also contributes another memorable soundtrack).

It’s funny, poignant and incredibly sexy in places, yet it never feels like it’s short-changing either its characters or its audience, adopting a refreshingly honest approach to everything that it tackles.

Viewers anticipating a more traditional ‘date movie’ may be a little surprised by some of the material, especially since The Last Kiss isn’t the natural successor to Garden State that its misleading trailer suggests.

But those who give into its charms will be rewarded with a thoroughly engrossing experience – one that’s capable of making you laugh, cry and seriously reflect on what it has to say.

Read our interview with Zach Braff

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Certificate: 15
Running time: 104mins