It begins in Nantes, when Gabriel (Michael Cohen) picks up Emilie (Julie Gayet). They are attracted, smitten; but before they kiss (if they do indeed), Emilie has a story to tell — more than one — about the nature and meaning of two lips meeting in life-altering bliss.
And so we may ask: Can one, great, unexpected kiss change everything — even rupture a placidly happy marriage and cause a permanent departure into another’s arms? Or does the passion of the kiss depend on all that has come before?
These are the amorous questions we encounter in Emmanuel Mouret’s “Shall We Kiss?” wherein we know or learn this much: In his lexicology of love and romance, one kiss can seal a fate. One honest kiss is more powerful, more permanently intoxicating than the main act itself.
‘Shall We Kiss?’
DIRECTED BY Emmanuel Mouret
SCREENPLAY BY Emmanuel Mouret.
STARRING Virginie Ledoyen, Emmanuel Mouret, Julie Gayet, Michael Cohen, Stefano Accorsi, Frederique Bal, Marie Madinier
RATED Not rated
RUNNING TIME 102 minutes (in French with English subtitles)
Before, if indeed, they go further, Emilie relates the story of her friend Nicolas, played by the director himself. Alas, yearning for passion in a relationship, Nicolas, a teacher, confesses his quandary to his longtime pal Judith, a lab researcher played by Virginie Ledoyen. As a favor, she agrees to one innocent touch of the lips. In the wings is her husband, Claudio (Stefano Accorsi), who does not have the kiss that conquers.
How were Judith and Nicolas to know the effect of this favor? Alas, as much as they resist, as much as they try to revert to a clinical touch of the lips (rote love on a hard floor), the course is reversed. Each kiss only intensifies their insatiable desire to have more.
Dangerous stuff — the intoxicating power of that unexpected meltdown, and as they observe the various subplots circling around the narrative, viewers too may search their memory bank of kisses.
Maybe the truth is simple. One kiss may have the power to seal it all, destroy all vestiges of logic and constancy. Before they kiss — if they do — Emilie, the Parisian, wants Gabriel, living with another woman, to realize the chances.
You can call “Shall We Kiss” a frothy, philosophical dissertation on the power of a pucker. You can also regard it as Woody Allen lite with a little Eric Rohmer souffled in.
You may also anticipate an American adaptation.
For any guy looking for a movie to please his girl, it is, hands down, the best date movie in town.