Shall We Kiss

Virginie Ledoyen, Emmanuel Mouret, and Julie Gayet star in a film written and directed by Emmanuel Mouret.

(From left to right) Virginie Ledoyen, Emmanuel Mouret, and Frederique Bel star in Shall We Kiss.

A kiss is rarely just a kiss claims this somewhat interesting French fluff, a tale within a tale about two friends who find they cannot return to their mates after a session of supposedly harmless therapeutic lovemaking. The plot makes sense while watching it, but just see if you can explain it to a friend and still respect yourself the next morning. And even though the issue ultimately is sexual infidelity, our narrator Emilie (Julie Gayet) insists that it was actually the kiss that betrayed the two friends into betraying their mutual partners. Two-thirds through the film, which is shot with an inordinate attention to visual jokes and cultural winks, the coy, gallingly Gallic infidelities suddenly grind into a moral reckoning, and the film and the smooch suddenly do seem to matter. Sadly, however, this air kiss with seriousness soon evaporates, leaving us puzzled about everything.

But the largest obstacle to enjoying Emmanuel Mouret’s film – which will be a hit – is Mouret, who stars as one of the kiss-crossed lovers and whose entire acting bag of tricks seems to be shrugs. (He’s been called a cross between Woody Allen and Jean Pierre Leaud, which is much too kind.) This might have been a smart film, but it keeps reverting to sappy filmmaking whenever challenged by ideas. No doubt my colleagues would term this a “fizzy romp,” which isn’t the worst way to spend an evening, even if it does feel like Mouret just kissed himself off.


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