Writer/director Gabriele Muccino’s The Last Kiss (L’Ultimo bacio) was one of the biggest box-office hits and most acclaimed films in Italy last year. The comedy-drama tells the stories of several relationships that are in various stages of crisis, including a middle-aged woman who has finally decided to leave her romantically neglectful husband, and their recently pregnant daughter whose insecure boyfriend is contemplating an affair with an eighteen-year old school girl.
The Last Kiss avoids melodramatic excess but still remains a rich and passionate film, beautifully filmed with each frame flowing with colour. The attractive and talented cast is a pleasure to watch as they travel from one emotional extreme to another, bursting with cravings and heated tempers.
For the most part the script is a clever examination of conflicting desires, and the turmoils of losing rational behaviour when love and lust become involved. Unfortunately the final resolutions are heavily biased toward the male characters attaining what they desire, while the female characters are compromised in one way or another.
Although the overall tone of The Last Kiss is light and fun, there are many scenes, in particular, the final and unexpected sting in the tail, which remind us that even the most idealised marriages and relationships are under constant danger of being undermined by the threat of infidelity, monotony or complacency.
Originally appeared in The Big Issue, No. 150, 2002