If you excuse treading in puddles with your socks on, there really is nothing worse in life than ageing. And it’s that constant, yet oh-so-predictable, racking-up of the years that’s got Zach Braff’s Michael all in a twist.
His girlfriend’s brilliant, but then there’s voluptuous young ’un Kim. It’s the perennial poser of balls or brain and, in a Paul Haggis-scripted remake of Gabriele Muccino’s 2001 L’Ultimo Bacio original, brains rarely win the day. Most men are cheats, women are shrill crybabies and, with both sexes nudging towards OTT cutouts, sympathy, for some, is hard to come by. Even if men and women are as pathetic as The Last Kiss seems to think, do we really want it rammed down our throats?
Braff, though, is the film’s saviour. You don’t buy his infidelity (partly because Haggis paints his relationship with Jacinda Barrett as far too happy – even their sex is great), but the Scrubs man is a star made, taking his easy Garden State charm and tagging on a thirtysomething maturity certain to make him a celluloid fixture for years to come. Rachel Bilson, too, makes giant strides from gogglebox to multiplex, the star of The OC oozing the sort of college-girl sex appeal that can stop older members of the rougher sex in their tracks. The pair, together with Tom Wilkinson and Blythe Danner’s older and also struggling couple, are responsible for some genuinely tender moments, such as when the latter pair collapse under the weight of decades of marital indifference.
Laugh-out-loud at the start and sprinkled with some firecracker sex scenes, The Last Kiss certainly isn’t without its charms. It’s just that, when most characters are painted as first-base stereotypes and men are forgiven for various misdemeanours simply by sitting outside the front door for a couple of nights, it’s frankly not realistic. Hence the lazy, but, unfortunately, increasingly common trick of tagging Coldplay on at the end – borrowing their populist sentiment to iron over any risk that the film may not have packed its desired emotional oomph in the first place.
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Funny and sexy, if guilty of the odd bit of male vs female/cheats vs harpies pigeon-holing. Watch out for more of Braff and Bilson, though.