It really annoys me when French films have their titles altered in translation. The recent MIFF French romantic comedy Un baiser s’il vous plaît (literally ‘A kiss, please’) could and probably should have been translated as ‘Please kiss me’. Instead it has been made into a question, ‘Shall we kiss?’ What’s the point of that?
This film was the highlight of the festival for me because I love French films where almost nothing happens. Others may find the subtlety irritating; I find it delicious. Some of my favourites include Le Perfum d’Yvonne (Yvonne’s perfume), A Monde sans Pitie (A World without pity) and La Discréte.
Un baiser s’il vous plaît stars the impossibly chic Virginie Ledoyen as Judith, a married woman who unexpectedly agrees to a casual fuck with her best male friend of many years, Nicholas, to console him when he’s depressed about being single. Nicholas is played by writer / director Emmanuel Mouret. It turns out they are the perfect kissing match and everything gets messy from then on.
The story of Judith and Nicholas (in the poster above) is in turn narrated by Judith’s friend Émilie (Julie Gayet) to a man she has just met, Gabriel (Michaël Cohen) in a vain attempt to stop them from consumating their immediate attraction for each other (below) with an equally disruptive kiss (both have partners).
Judith’s calm acceptance of Nicholas’ dorky but sleazy suggestion is bizarre, and everything that follows is surreal and realistic at the same time, for it shows the joys and destructive consequences of impulsive behaviour. It is an extremely erotic film that teases more than it reveals.