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Vol. LXIII, No. 15
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

TO KISS OR NOT TO KISS; THAT IS THE QUESTION: Two strangers, Emilie (Julie Gayet, left) and Gabriel (Michael Cohen) impulsively decide to go to dinner together after Gabriel offers her a ride when they meet in the train station in Nantes, France.

Shall We Kiss?: Strangers Spend Evening Deciding Whether to Kiss or Not

Kam Williams

While in the city of Nantes on business, Emilie (Julie Gayet), a cosmopolitan Parisian, impulsively accepts a ride from a handsome stranger (Michael Cohen). In the close confines of the car the two feel an instant attraction and, without even exchanging names, ignore the reasons why they each came to Nantes and instead decide to have dinner together.

During a cozy candlelit dinner in a local restaurant Emilie soon admits that she has a boyfriend back home, and Gabriel reveals that he too is in a committed relationship. Still, that doesn’t discourage him from asking for a farewell kiss at the end of the romantic evening after which they each will go their separate ways.

She hesitates, explaining that, although their “significant others” might never learn about the indiscretion, a secretly stolen kiss often has unanticipated consequences. And to prove her point, she starts to tell an intricate tale about what happened to a “friend” who made the mistake of thinking she could cheat safely on her spouse as long as she kept the affair strictly physical with no feelings or strings attached.

Thus, with Gabriel impatiently waiting for his kiss, Emilie puts him off by imitating Scheherazade, the legendary woman in an Arabian king’s harem who eluded death by telling the king a different story for a thousand and one nights. Emilie keeps Gabriel, and the audience, at bay with a series of flashbacks before she reveals her answer to the question that we have been set up to care about.

After chatting away endlessly, she lays out a set of rules for granting the kiss, such as “no names,” “no feelings,” “no facial expressions” and “no goodbyes.” This drains the passion out of the prolonged seduction to the point that the decision “to kiss or not to kiss” proves to be anticlimactic when it finally arrives.

A chick flick that is designed to keep the audience on the edge of their seats while watching as a pair of strangers anguishes over whether to have one kiss.

Fair (1½ stars). Unrated. In French with subtitles. Running time: 100 minutes. Studio: Music Box Films.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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