The Last Kiss (L' Ultimo Bacio) Made in: Italy Language: Italian Director: Gabriele Muccino Starring: Stefano Accorsi, Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Stefania Sandrelli, Luigi Diberti, Giorgio Pasotti, Claudio Santamaria, Marco Cocci, Pierfrancesco Favino, Martina Stella Year: 2001
Synopsis: Nearing his 30th birthday, Carlo (Stefano Accorsi) learns that his live-in girlfriend Giulia (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) is pregnant with his child. The thought of having to be a responsible adult becomes overwhelming, and quickly turns into a full-blown crisis. Confronted with the idea of marriage, buying a house, and changing diapers, Carlos finds that he'd rather remain an overgrown adolescent.
His immature buddies, although supportive, are no help as they face their own issues in this stage of life called growing up. Carlo's co-worker Adriano (Giorgio Pasotti) is a young father stuck with an overbearing wife, Paolo (Claudio Santamaria) can't let go of a former girlfriend who's moved on, and Alberto (Marco Cocci) is only interested in womanizing and smoking weed.
Struggling between moving forward and holding on to the perceived freedom of youth, Carlo encounters temptation when he meets a young student named Francesca (Martina Stella).
And while all this is going on, Giulia's mother (Stefania Sandrelli) and father (Luigi Diberti) are headed on a collision course of their own after years of dysfunctional marriage.
The Good: The Last Kiss lulls you into thinking that it'll be a lighthearted, Italian chick-flick with the usual relationship jokes and girly stuff. We all know that relationships are complicated, but The Last Kiss hammers this point hard with passion, emotional intensity, and realism.
Juggling a large number of characters and a variety of life issues that occur at different stages of life, director Gabriele Muccino manages to weave a tight narrative that not only grabs, but also holds your attention for nearly two hours. Despite the many themes going on at the same time, The Last Kiss doesn't fly in too many directions, the characters are well-developed, and the story wraps up nicely at the end.
A Brazilian director named Bruno Barreto once mentioned during an interview that every film should have at least one really strong character. Here in Muccino's film, that character is, by far, Giovanna Mezzogiorno's Giulia. Mezzogiorno is not only authentic, her expressiveness is absolutely mesmerizing during the second half of the film and her emotional range is incredible.
The Bad: There's lots of shouting in this movie. Generally, many Europeans (including Italians) are more outwardly expressive than we Americans. In other words, they're more likely than we are to yell really loud during an emotionally heated situation - not just the ones involving sports. If you aren't aware of this, the film may come across as over-the-top during some scenes.
Who would like this movie: If you like love stories, I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy this foreign film. All the themes are pretty familiar, but they are explored with such sincerity that you'll be drawn in. The Last Kiss may be too intense if you're looking for a chick-flick experience, but in the end, it's definitely satisfying.