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'Last Kiss'

Cynicism, vanity poison 'Last Kiss'

Saturday, October 12, 2002

By Ron Weiskind, Post-Gazette Movie Editor

The Italian movie "Last Kiss," now at the Regent Square Theater, runs at farce speed but plays more like tragedy, or would if the characters weren't so superficial and self-centered.

"Last Kiss"

RATING: R for language, sexuality and some drug use. Subtitled.

STARRING: Stefano Accorsi, Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Martina Stella.

DIRECTOR: Gabriele Muccino.



It's not just that the quartet of twentysomething men in the film are allergic to commitment. Yes, Marco (Pierfrancesco Favino) has a different lover every night. But Adriano (Giorgio Pasotti) is married, yet feels shunned by his wife after the birth of their child. Paolo (Claudio Santamaria) is in love with a woman who has stopped loving him back. He wants to flee but can't because his father is dying and wants Paolo to take over his store, in which the younger man has no interest.

The bulk of the story focuses on Carlo (Stefano Accorsi), whose girlfriend Giulia (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) opens the movie by proudly announcing to her parents that she is pregnant.

Her pronouncement makes everyone happy on the outside but miserable on the inside. Carlo worries about the responsibility and feels his youth slipping away (he's nearing 30), while Adriano feeds his unease by whining about his own problems. Giulia's mother, Anna (Stefania Sandrelli), finds herself dwelling on her age and appearance and jealous of her daughter. Fed up with the lack of passion in her own marriage, she seeks out an old lover in hopes of rekindling their fling.

While his friends talk about escaping by buying a van and driving across Africa, Carlo responds to his panic by pursuing Francesca (Martina Stella), a sexy 18-year-old blond high school student.

Director Gabriele Muccino and his swirling camera whipsaw effectively among these conflicted characters, finding a pace and rhythm in his editing that emphasizes the accumulating frenzy. But these characters aren't mad. They're mostly shallow and vain, while the movie's cynicism about love runs very deep and cold, right down to its ironic ending.

It's one thing to fret about growing old. The end of passion is a serious matter in any marriage, and the movie has some interesting things to say about what replaces it. But it's another thing to refuse to grow up so vehemently that you run screaming at the first obstacle or demand. It's impossible for me to sympathize with these men (it doesn't help that the women are drop-dead gorgeous and the guys could be fashion models), which leaves me with no other choice but to kiss off "Last Kiss."

Ron Weiskind can be reached at rweiskind@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1581.

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