Inside Out 2012: ‘Kiss Me’; a classic tale of love destined to become a classic of its own

Kiss Me

Written and directed by Alexandra-Therese Keining

Sweden, 2011

Like in Mulholland Drive, the first intimate encounter between the two female leads is delicately depicted. Perfuse with undeniable eroticism and composed with such seductive elegance, this moment is mediated on absolute and instinctive passion. Framed amongst the forbidden circumstances of their carnal convergence, the kiss, when juxtaposed, enkindles an emotional dialectic of forlorn beauty.

With gorgeously regal cinematography and unequivocally captivating performances, this beauty is deeply embedded into Alexandra-Therese Keining’s Kiss Me, a classic tale of love destined to become a classic of its own.

The film centers on Mia (Ruth Vega Fernandez), a tightly wound, anal-retentive woman. With her business partner and fiancé Tim (Joakim Nätterqvist), she visits her father (Krister Henriksson) at his engagement ceremony, where she meets Frida (Liv Mjönes), the free-spirited daughter of his wife-to-be (Lena Endre from the Swedish Millennium Series Trilogy). Initially perplexed by Frida’s unabashed transparency, Mia’s clandestine intrigue develops into a Sapphic desire.

Although rife with taboo licentiousness, Kiss Me never succumbs to its potential for debauchery; this is a story about love, not lust. The film doesn’t compromise its deleterious set-up, and, instead, allows itself to delve into its impossibly complex predicament with devastating abandon.

For instance, Mia’s fiancé, Tim, is never fabricated to be an outright villain. Although flawed, he is believably so, and never gives Mia any tangible reason for an annulment. She and Tim have built a life together, which she must try and rationalize with her escalating affaire de Coeur.

This forces her to make an invidious choice based on whom she loves more instead of anything superficial, which, in return, results in a more profound and emotionally contentious eventuality. Her disquiet self-torment is morbidly fascinating to watch, and as her inner turmoil reaches its pinnacle, the following catharsis is overwhelmingly irresistible.

Ragna Jorming’s photography is also outstandingly stunning, giving the viewer a sense of the romanticism and underlying beauty of its narrative. At times sweeping with controlled grace, and at others artfully stochastic with close-up naturalism, the film’s technical wonders are to be desired.

But in particular, the acting is singularly the most impressive facet of he film. Although in Swedish with English subtitles, the intricacies of Kiss Me can be understood by the performances alone. The entire cast is competently acted, but Fernandez, in particular, stands out with her ability to portray a woman swathed in reluctance, torment, and despair with vivid prowess.

With plentitudes of technical and creative achievements to spare, Kiss Me is an undeniably sexy film that succeeds on so many levels.

– Justin Li

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