Owen Gleiberman
September 06, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Last Kiss (Movie - 2002)

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
115 minutes
Limited Release Date
08/16/02
performer
Stefano Accorsi, Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Marco Cocci, Pierfrancesco Favino, Stefania Sandrelli
director
Gabriele Muccino
distributor
THINKFilm
author
Gabriele Muccino
genre
Comedy, Drama
We gave it an A-

The five male friends in The Last Kiss, all of them around 30, are doing everything they can to grow up and stay free at the same time. The movie presents their impossible quest in tones that are ripely, vivaciously comic, yet that doesn’t mean we’re laughing at their passion. ”The Last Kiss,” set in Rome, might be described as a modern-day Italian version of ”Diner” (or of the movie that foreshadowed ”Diner,” Fellini’s great ”I Vitelloni”), and it takes its charge from the way the writer-director, Gabriele Muccino, draws us into an emotional conspiracy with behavior that the film is more than willing to recognize as folly.

Carlo (Stefano Accorsi), the handsome central figure, is about to have a baby with his girlfriend (Giovanna Mezzogiorno), whose fiercely possessive nature — she vows to kill him if he ever strays — is really her operatic form of devotion. At a wedding, Carlo meets Francesca (Martina Stella), the sort of not-quite-a-girl nymph who’s been haunting the fantasies of settled-down men ever since there were settled-down men. The progression of this affair — the seduction, the covering up, the discovery, and what happens next — turns out to be the most gloriously lived-in paean to the high call of fidelity that any movie has given us in quite some time. Not all the other storylines are as vibrant, yet ”The Last Kiss,” a crowd-pleaser in the deepest sense, mixes heartbreak and happiness together until you don’t even want to see them apart.

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