Gabriele Muccino’s 2001 comedy-drama The Last Kiss brought the Italian writer-director no small measure of international recognition. While the film was adapted – with Paul Haggis scripting and Tony Goldwyn directing – for a 2006 Hollywood remake starring Zach Braff and Jacinda Barrett, Muccino landed himself a pair of Will Smith vehicles in The Pursuit of Happyness (well-received) and Seven Pounds (not so much). Returning home, Muccino has now revisited his earlier success with the sequel Kiss Me Again (Baciami Ancora).
It’s nine years since the events of The Last Kiss. Carlo (Stefano Accorsi) has spent the past few years separated from his wife Giulia (Vittoria Puccini). It’s been an eventful time of swinging bachelorhood – as illustrated in an opening montage of Carlo’s multiple conquests – but, now approaching forty, Carlo longs to settle down. For real this time. Though attempting to commit to his latest – and considerably younger – girlfriend Anna (Francesa Valtora), his interactions with his and Giulia’s daughter Sveva (Sara Girolami) remind him of the family life he left behind. Giulia is herself attempting to move on, having been in a relationship with struggling actor Simone (Adriano Giannini, son of Giancarlo), but has her own doubt as the divorce looms near. Their circle of friends are similarly consumed with their own relationship dilemmas. The marriage of Marco (Pierfrancesco Favino) and Veronica (Daniela Piazza) is crumbling under the weight of his oppressive jealousy and her equally intense yearning for a baby. The mentally-unstable Paolo (Claudio Santamaria) is wrestling with the demons in his mind, whilst attempting to hold together a relationship with single mother Livia (Sabrina Impacciatore). Livia has a ten-year-old son, Matteo (Andrea Calligari) to Adriano (Giorgio Pasotti), who vanished when the boy was a baby and has since emerged from a two year prison stretch for drug smuggling. Remorseful at abandoning his son, Adriano attempts to connect with the boy, but has to contend with Matteo’s strong sense of resentment. And then there’s Alberto (Marco Cocci), who’s not enjoying the single life as much as he used to either, but is beginning to look abroad for fulfilment.
Even if you haven’t seen The Last Kiss (and I actually haven’t), Kiss Me Again is a rewarding ensemble piece. The cast is uniformly terrific, particualrly the charismatic Accorsi, empathetic Santamaria and beautiful Puccini (replacing the earlier film’s Giovanna Mezzogiorno). Muccino’s script explores its relationships – and more importantly their individual interactions – with honesty and sincerity. With a 139-minute running time, there’s ample room for Muccino’s characters to play out their various crises. In fact, there’s arguably too much room, as it feels like a good 20-to-25 minutes could have been trimmed here and there. Of the many subplots, Adriano’s feels somewhat protracted, while Alberto’s is sorely underdeveloped. However, the central Carlo-Giulia storyline is compelling all the way, as are the other threads. Had the surrounding subplots been trimmed down slightly, the main storyline would have probably carried the film well enough on its own. As it is – and despite an overly neat ending – Kiss Me Again is still thoughtful, intelligent and entertaining.
Kiss Me Again opens in selected cinemas 10th March. For more information, check out the film’s official website at Sharmill Films.