Muccino’s pursuit of happiness with Kiss Me Again
by Camillo de Marco
26/01/2010 - The large, symbolic Roman fountain around which the group of friends hung out in The Last Kiss, dreaming and screaming about their dreams is still there. But in the sequel Baciami ancora [trailer], it has been emptied. Like much of the slanci and enthusiasm of the films’ characters, today 40-year-olds.
Nine years after the first film placed him on the map (in 2001 The Last Kiss received five David di Donatello awards, grossed €16m domestically and €1m in the US after winning the Sundance Festival Audience Award), Gabriele Muccino is back with those love stories and has brought together almost the entire original cast: Stefano Accorsi, who was been working almost exclusively in France in recent year, returns as Carlo, while the indocile Giovanna Mezzogiorno, who passed on the sequel, was replaced by the Botticelli-esue Vittoria Puccini in the role of his wife Giulia.
It is legitimate to wonder why this second instalment was made. Muccino, a wunderkind since his second feature film But Forever In My MInd, was chosen in 2006 by Will Smith and co-producer James Lassiter to direct The Pursuit of Happyness, which grossed $300m worldwide and won Smith an Oscar nomination. Their following film together, Seven Puonds, raked in $170m. The recurring element that perhaps binds all of Muccino’s work is his attempt to make soulful films about emotions and intertwined fates.
In Kiss Me Again, Carlo and Giulia are separated and awaiting their divorce, but see each other every day because of their daughter Sveva. Carlo realizes he’s still very much in love with his ex and decides to win her back. Marco (Pierfrancesco Favino) feels like he’s loosing his wife, who has been trying for years to have a child, to no avail. Adriano (Giorgio Pasotti) comes home after a 10-year absence (two of which were spent in a Colombian prison for drug smuggling) and wants more than anything to establish a relationship with the son he abandoned at childbirth. The boy’s mother Livia (Sabrina Impacciatore) has recently started seeing Paolo (Claudio Santamaria), who is being eaten alive by depression. Alberto (Marco Cocci), on the contrary, is the only one still open to a life that breaks the molds of marriage, children and routine.
All of these stories of small wounds among friends get tangled up and unraveled two hours and twenty minutes in which the characters’ anxieties grow, until becoming – with much drama and trauma in between – a tidy micro-cosmos that represents a greater universe of a lost, disturbed generation, characterised by fragile relationships. The “liquid love” of which British philosopher Zygmunt Bauman wrote.
Flaunting a polychrome palette of emotions and greater attention to the female characters, Muccino squeezes his actors like lemons to distil contemporary ills and find their remedies. But the film’s limit is its overly great balance, its systematically sociological approach, a bit like statistical research, which doesn’t compel audiences to ask whether these characters are truly interesting but if they reflect the times we know and are living in, and to what point they can identify with them.
(Translated from Italian)