Swedish film Kyss Mig--formally titled Kiss Me in U.S. distribution—is a love story between two women that focuses on finding happiness and dealing with mistakes. Though it features the oft-seen theme of a woman wishing to leave a man in order to come out with a woman, the look of the film and the soundtrack more than make up for any plot defects. Kiss Me tells the story of Frida (Liv Mjönes) and Mia (Ruth Vega Fernandez), who meet for the first time at their respective parent’s engagement party. Mia is a sullen and fragile individual, prone to unhappiness, especially when she is forced to spend time with her father, Lasse (Krister Henriksson). Frida and her mother (Lena Endre) have a much calmer and much more assertive relationship, which helps to steady the temperament of the group. Mia is also engaged to the good-natured Tim (Joakim Nättergvist) at the time of the engagement party, but it’s immediately clear she has eyes for Frida.
Mia’s character is a bit of a conundrum, blowing hot and cold, clearly attracted to Frida but trying to throw out a repellant attitude like it’s the only thing that could save her. It must be a tough thing to leave the safety of one relationship for another that would be an entirely different experience. However, the way Mia’s character is written makes it difficult to believe someone would want to expend energy loving her, she’s so bitter, difficult, and broken—even in her most manic moments.
There’s a lot of infighting in director and writer Alexandre-Therese Keining’s story, but the one thing I really like about Kiss Me is how open and succinct people are with their feelings. Given a miscommunication, the characters simply talk it out. Given a cheating scandal, the characters are forced to open up, admit fallacy, and apologize. Even Mia and Lasse—who are more shuttered than the others—have to deal with consequences. It may make audiences a little uncomfortable to see such happiness in a couple of women embarking on a torrid affair when both have significant others, but no one escapes their mistakes without being forced to deal with them.
As an American experiencing this film for the first time, I can’t believe how much drinking and smoking can occur in a film in under two hours. I haven’t seen so much drinking at lunchtime since Arrested Development went off the air and I stopped getting a weekly dose of Lucille. None of this really matters, as it isn’t a family friendly movie geared towards kids (there’s even nudity!), but I did find myself thinking that I could never keep up with the Swedes. I’d be drunk by breakfast.
The film is subtitled in English, and there are some moments when the translation doesn’t come across satisfactorily. Sometimes there are scenes that are being played for humor—noticeable because the characters are laughing—that are not funny in the language in the text. As can happen with subtitles, the writing can seem awkward, but that’s always the danger with subtitling, and the cinematography and soundtrack more than make up for the clunky English. The latter features music written by Marc Collin and interspersed with pop music, and the former uses delicate, slows shots that focus on the characters expressions and soft lighting to tell it’s emotional story.
Kiss Me is a coming out story that focuses on love, loss and relationships. It’s a story about opening up and finding a way to happiness, even if there are setbacks. The film’s plot sometimes wavers, dealing with too many side narratives, but it is emotionally rewarding, and makes up for many of its drawbacks. At the beginning of the disc, there’s an anti-piracy ‘pay to play” skit from two women discussing the number of LGBT films produced and how to maintain support for LGBT films, there needs to be monetary support from the viewers. I would never illegally download a film, so I’m not sure if this approach is any more effective than the horrendous anti-piracy commercial a lot of the studios use, but it was definitely less aggressive and more meaningful. Interestingly, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has a similar, emotionally-driven appeal tactic in the works.
The disc features a lot of filler, and one music video. The music video is for the song “Love Steam,” featuring Melanie Pain of Nouvelle Vague. It was less exciting than a video from Jose Gonzalez or Robyn would have been. There’s also a trailer for Kiss Me and trailers for some upcoming films from Wolfe video. Really, there’s nothing here. It’s an independent release for a Swedish film, so it really shouldn’t come as a surprise, but if you are buying the set, you are doing so for the sake of the film only.
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