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:: L'Ultimo Bacio (The Last Kiss)

This Italian film won the World Cinema Audience Award at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival and scooped the Italian Oscars last year. It comes to Australian cinemas with fine credentials, and it doesn’t disappoint. Director Gabriele Muccino is a young person with a terrific future. The characters portray real people in real situations. It’s something we can relate to; making you laugh or cry in the various scenarios.

With a look of a big screen soap opera, “L’Ultimo Bacio” is charged with a passion that will hit it off with viewers. A terrific young ensemble cast goes at it with a cracking pace, but the film keeps in touch with the tone of their lives. Carlo (Stefano Accorsi) has been with his girlfriend Giulia (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) for three years and they have found out that they’re to have a baby. Giulia becomes obsessed with the homely, motherly aspirations while Carlo feels the pressure of a lifelong commitment tightening around him. His best friend Adriano (Giorgio Pasotti) splits from his girlfriend, due to an inability to deal with the same responsibility. And another friend, Marco (Pierfrancesco Favino), sleeps with a different girl every other night.

With all this around him, Carlo meets and is bedazzled by a blonde teenage girl Francesca (Martina Stella). He is unable to resist her charm and embarks on an exciting liaison that threatens his life with the woman he truly loves. Meanwhile, Giulia’s mother Anna (Stefania Sandrelli) has her own hang-ups in being fifty years old and trapped in a loveless marriage. That is an interesting side issue to the restless lives of the younger characters.

Director Muccino keeps everything happening very swiftly and nicely orchestrates a wave a emotions. The film is a passionate Hollywood-style romantic comedy in some ways, with a feisty loudness to it. And it won’t commit the viewer to the usual “Happily ever after” ending for the characters. It tells us something about the efforts required in maintaining a long, happy relationship. Muccino had previously made a film about the teenage years. Here, we get a dose of the uncertain thirties years. “L’Ultimo Bacio” runs through a stream of feelings and we are allowed to observe the natural instincts and amiable nature. Overall, the film is charming and engaging in setting us on a course of accessible subject matters.

Screening at the Rivoli Cinemas, Cinema Como, and Cinema Nova