The French talk Frenching in “The Kiss”

Film explores the meaning of “un baiser s’il vous plait”

Things steam up between Émilie and Gabriel. PHOTO COURTESY TFM DISTRIBUTION

Ashley Goetz

Things steam up between Émilie and Gabriel. PHOTO COURTESY TFM DISTRIBUTION

âÄúShall We Kiss?âÄù DIRECTOR: Emmanuel Mouret STARRING: Virginie Ledoyen, Emmanuel Mouret, Julie Gayet, Michael Cohen SHOWING: Lagoon Theater, (612) 825-6006 French writer/director/actor Emmanuel Mouret (âÄúVenus and Fleur,âÄù âÄúChange of AddressâÄù) has been likened to Woody Allen in content and direction because of his featuring of plucky female leads and unconventional love affairs. His new film âÄúShall We Kiss?âÄù which opens Friday in Uptown, examines the emotional investment and complications of reaching first base. The chance meeting between two enchanted but committed strangers, Ãâmilie (Gayet) and Gabriel (Cohen) , winds to a close when Gabriel begs his strange partner for âÄúa kiss without consequences,âÄù but Ãâmilie declines and begins to tell a story of her friends that were befallen by a kiss with unexpected consequences. She begins, âÄúBefore a kiss is given, no one knows if it will be big or small.âÄù Like many of AllenâÄôs works, MouretâÄôs âÄúShall We Kiss?âÄù is a screwball sex comedy in the vein of the recent âÄúVicky Cristina Barcelona.âÄù The charactersâÄô constant foray into love is depicted as romanceâÄôs ironic march toward death. MouretâÄôs Ãâmilie could be compared to AllenâÄôs current ScarJo in this film. She plays somewhat of a side role, but her fleeting bouts of emotion and coy smiles are charismatic and captivating. Mouret is the real star of the movie, starring in most of the flashback scenes as Nicolas. His odd walk and facetious smile aid in creating a caricature of a heartsick wanderer. Though the plot resembles the Mike Nichols drama âÄúCloser,âÄù the script is polite and tongue-in-cheek, with cute quips that take place between the blossoming friends Ãâmilie and Gabriel. Without the Julia Roberts/Jude Law angst, the film is charming instead of daunting. The romantic, quirky tone of the film also owes credit to the rolling soundtrack. The background music features drifting accordions and whirling pianos that make the whole movie sound like a charming delicatessen. The settings and costuming are drab, but effectively so. Shot frequently in museums such as the Fine Arts Museum in Nantes , France, each turn of the camera shows another stark stage that the actors paint with a mess of snarled emotion and a few dashes of their own beauty. Unlike the equally French bread, the baguette, âÄúShall We Kiss?âÄù isnâÄôt too long to enjoy in a single sitting. With quick scenes flashing from present to past, the movie methodically mosies like two lovers strolling along the river Seine . The clips between scenes are artful skips and hops, like a stone speeding across the surface of the water, making a stop or two every few seconds at yet another sentimental scene. ÃâmilieâÄôs intricate and striking story begins to show the ways in which a simple brushing of the lips can tangle a neatly arranged world, for better or worse. 3 of 5 stars