Here is an indie film that has received terrific reviews from critics including the New Yorker and Salon, so I went to the local art house cinema, the Enzian, to see what was described by critic Roger Moore as “ … a bittersweet, romantic ride …” that was going to “restore my faith in romantic films.”
Not even a little bit. The plot, what there was of it, was a boy-meets-girl cliché with a “meet cute” that involved an ad on Craig’s List. Wow, there’s an innovative concept. In the course of this film, the boy meets the girl, loses the girl, and wins the girl, another not-even-slightly unusual concept. The fact that most of this takes place while these two people are wandering around the streets of Los Angeles smoking cigarettes and wearing bad clothes was trying enough. I checked the time on my cell phone a lot during this part of the film.
But worse than that was the language, which I found really offensive. It was neither witty nor original and was only what I can imagine would be a twelve-year-old boy’s concept of what might be funny. Oh, and a lot of the “jokes” were obscene and really nasty, too. Obscene language can be very funny; but to do so it has to surprise you, at least a little bit, and this was just a constant stream of vile descriptions of bodily functions and sexual acts. I think language like that is bad writing.
We’re supposed to be rooting for our couple, Wilson (played by Scoot McNairy) and Vivian (Sara Simmonds) even though he’s a loser, whose favorite entertainments are smoking his bong, eavesdropping on his roommates having sex, and abusing himself to a picture of his roommate’s girlfriend. Vivian is Wilson’s love interest, and she’s a lost soul who pops prescription drugs, drinks alcohol out of a paper cup, chain smokes and takes pictures of lost shoes (How artsy! How endearing!) all the while carrying the baby of her abusive boyfriend. I think the actors playing these parts did the best they could with the material. Sara Simmonds is really pretty and cries very well when called upon to do so, but she looks like she’ll have at least three chins by the time she’s thirty so I don’t think we’ll be seeing much of her. Scoot McNairy was the closest thing to charm I found in this film, but his haircut was so bad I had a hard time telling what he looked like.
I know a lot of people will disagree with me on this since “In Search of a Midnight Kiss” was the winner of Best Film at the Florida Film Festival this year so I do want to say something nice about it. I liked the opening shots and the theme that was outlined there: it is true, people don’t like to be alone on New Year’s Eve and crave the touch of someone they care about as the old year passes away. But try to see the rest of this movie without looking at your watch. Bet you can’t.