SHALL WE KISS
While on a work assignment one evening, Émilie (Julie Gayet) offers an impromptu lift home to Gabriel (Michael Cohen). As the two speak in the car, an attraction forms - despite the fact each has a partner - and they end up having a romantic dinner. However, when it comes to goodnights, Emilie refuses to give Gabriel a farewell kiss. Pourquoi? "Because a single kiss can change your life", she says, however innocently intended. And to illustrate her point, she tells Gabriel a story (which, she stresses, is not her own in disguise). It's a story of long-time best friends and confidantes, Judith (Virgine Ledoyen) and Nicolas (Emmanuel Mouret) who decide to cross into intimacy, with unintended consequences.
Review by Louise Keller:
A kiss, like this deceptively simple love story, is none too simple at all. Meeting, falling in love, breaking up and waking up to what is the right thing for a relationship is the thrust of this amusing romantic comedy in which a kiss of no consequence has unforeseen consequences. Emmanuel Mouret's follow up to his charming Change of Address instigates a similar menu of circumstances, characters and emotions that are juxtaposed in surprising fashion and which result in an edge of the seat emotional adventure of the heart. The journey gives us a shot in the arm where love is concerned, reminding us that the best laid plans are those that are unplanned.
There's a wonderful simplicity in the way Mouret tells his story. It starts when two strangers meet in the street in Nantes and spend the evening together. We instantly become interested in the relationship between Julie Gayet's Émilie, an attractive Parisian fabric designer and Michaël Cohen's Gabriel, who runs his own company in the same field. But when it is time to say goodbye and Gabriel suggests that 'kiss of no consequence', we realise this is only the beginning of the story, being the cue for Émilie's tale. The tale she tells is about another couple whose relationship evolves unexpectedly from the platonic to romantic. There's nothing passionate or sensual about the scenes in which Mouret's school teacher Nicolas, who admits to lacking physical affection, makes out with his best friend Judith (Virginie Ledoyen) who works in a chemistry lab. They are outright comical and akin to a comedy of errors as they kiss and make love more than once to prove their chemistry doesn't mean a thing. But there's more. There are other partners involved: Change of Address's Frédérique Bel as the wide-eyed Caline and Stefano Accorsi, the Schubert-obsessed Claudio, whose involvement draws us deeper and deeper in the mysterious quagmire of love.
One of Mouret's trump cards comes with his use of music. Each relationship takes ownership of a composer and his music during key sequences. The story leads into a crescendo as it flits between the growing relationship between the two strangers and Émilie's recounting of Nicolas and Judith's increasingly complicated relationship. Love, friendship, attraction are all part of the mix and we learn you have to be crazy to be sensible. It's a beguiling story about relationships that only the French could pull off and the ending comes as unexpectedly as it is satisfying.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The addiction of French cinema to stories of love, lust, betrayal and romance - the various sides of this prism called l'amour - continues unabated in the hands of Emmanuel Mouret, playing unassuming characters on screen in his own films, like this one and the charming and disarming Change of Address. Shall We Kiss is also disarming, although it meanders through the first two acts with less traction than Change of Address.
Mouret inserts a story within the story of two strangers meeting and connecting; the story is a cautionary tale, whose payoff comes right at the end, with a pleasing little thud. Julie Gayet carries this film on her elegant and attractive shoulders, as Émilie, the travelling designer in town for meetings when she is offered a lift by the gallant Gabriel (Michaël Cohen). They strike up an instant affection but she resists his farewell kiss - you never know where it may lead. Actually, she does know, and so do we. So she begins to tell the tale of Judith (Virgine Ledoyen) and Nicolas (Emmanuel Mouret), over a drink at a bar ... As the story progresses, the bar closes and they have to continue in her hotel room.
But the inner story takes precedence in the film, and Mouret falters here and there with both the elasticity of the story (it's a tad too thin and brittle) and with his own hesitant, neurotic, Woody Alleneseque Nicolas. A case of a bit too much of a good thing ...
But the film rights itself in the end, and there are some deftly handled scenes throughout. The premise of a kiss leading to bigger things isn't new, but Mouret adds a layer of complexity with friendship giving way to love. It's this that is central to his comic intent, as the friends go through a ritual of pretence as they reconstruct their relationship along sexual lines. In the end, we are seduced by the very kiss that has been withheld - in true romantic comedy style. Only here it's a wry comedy, not a boy gets girl comedy ... except that the boy does get the girl. You have to see it to get it.
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SHALL WE KISS (PG)
Un baiser s'il vous plaît
CAST: Virginie Ledoyen, Emmanuel Moret, Frédérique Bel, Julie Gayet, Michael Cohen, Stefano Accorsi, Melanie Maudran, Marie Medinier
PRODUCER: Frédéric Niedermayer
DIRECTOR: Emmanuel Moret
SCRIPT: Emmanuel Moret
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Laurent Desmet
EDITOR: Martial Salomon
RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Umbrella Ent
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 11, 2009