Arriving one year before “Blue is the Warmest Color” took the main prize at Cannes, “Kiss Me” (Kyss Mig) is a remarkable Swedish offering that elegantly addresses how exhilarating and frightening unexpected true love can be. And that ultimately, status or stability is secondary to its capture.
Delivered without a single onscreen reference to the beauty of the actresses involved, “Kiss Me” keeps the story in focus by draping the stunning Liv Mjones (Frida) and Ruth Vega Fernandez (Mia) in loose fitting clothes (and the blow dryer firmly in lockdown).
Without a single gratuitous moment, emerging emotions, shifting priorities and struggles are delivered by actresses with uncommon talent.
Though no one remotely suspects any acting is going on. Mjones and Fernandez are that good.
And the story, about stable women in their 30s is all the more interesting for that fact. Here the ramifications are clearly understood. Just as an unexpected opportunity for complete emotional, physical and intellectual satisfaction is north of impulse. It is the brass ring.
The evolving chemistry between Mia, an engaged architect, and her stepsister-to-be Frida is so unexpected and poignantly unstoppable that the audience is just as breathless.
After meeting Frida, Mia is instantly devastated by her own confusion. Not only is Frida beautiful but she is an appealing person on every level.
As Mia relents incrementally, her previously unfulfilled corners and creases are resoundingly satisfied. She emerges from each moment more radiant and alive. But her journey is not without its travails.
Mjones is transcendant as Frida. Her acting impossibly overshadows a beauty akin to a genetic lottery win. She infuses her Frida with such child-like transparency there is hardly a doubt Mia (or anyone) could resist her gentle focus. Frida knows who she is and yet is almost foal-like in her vulnerability with Mia. The glimpses of the life they could have together, and may not, almost shatters her. Her soul mate narrowly within reach has caused Frida to be non-functioning in other ways.
As she comes from a place of genuine love, Frida doesn’t demand and it is that unguarded affection and warm inviting that melts Mia into an inescapable submission. And promise of a life with so much more.
The kisses here are compelled by such palpable warmth and love, the unmistakable naturalness to each compulsion defies gender. Love here is lava stealthily moving everything else out of its way.
As their interactions reach a tipping point, their existing relationships unravel and shift. Bravely, love not sex is the most prominent inhabitant of this film. It thrives with nary a cell phone, or laptop exchange. Instead there is thoughtful dialogue by intelligent, good people with common sense and awareness.
Fernandez is an emotional knockout. She makes Mia’s struggle as palpable as her pull toward something she cannot escape. Yet it is tethered with a mature restraint. Her every thought is instantly relayed with soulful eyes. What Fernandez does with this character is gamely let her be smart and good and unsure and certain in the ways of a mature, intelligent, young woman. Her acting is a tour de force. There is not one false note.
Lena Endre as Frida’s equally stunning mother Elisabeth, is casting gold. A best actress nominee for “Faithless” in 2000, her Elisabeth has come to grips with her daughter’s choices (or lack of choice) and it is her own strength of character that snaps her fiancé into a better-man territory when faced with his daughter Mia’s new leaning.
Frida offers the same strength of character, though with Mia, she has managed to morally fail and succeed simultaneously. Watching herself on a video saying she would never cheat, Mjones is priceless. Frida’s slight eyebrow raise moves to a suppressed grin that speak volumes.
“Kiss Me” is impossible to describe. The cinematography is so engrossing, the simplicity of every frame lit to perfection, music underlining that doesn’t overwhelm and a story brought to life by an exceptional observations, casting, symmetry and emotion.
Look for metaphors in every well-thought line and enjoy the lyrical, simplistic journey to love, acceptance and fulfillment.
This is a perfect story about emotional love.
Currently playing the film festival circuit. Also available on DVD.