Oct 9, 2006
I loved Zach Braff’s film debut in Garden State (2004), and so I had been eagerly looking forward to his role in the new release The Last Kiss. The movie’s other promising credit is writer Paul Haggis, who recently provided the complex and profound script for Crash (2005). Emerging from this talent is a film of real artistic quality that falls regrettably short of moral or human truth.
Braff plays Michael, a 29-year-old architect living with his pregnant girlfriend, Jenna, in Madison, Wisconsin. Michael faces what might be called a quarter-life crisis as he realizes his perfectly planned out life offers no surprise or spontaneity. Feeling trapped and afraid, he covertly pursues a relationship with a spunky but manipulative college student.
Meanwhile, other failing relationships provide an interesting comparison: Jenna’s parents are separating after 30 years of marriage, the couple’s recently married friends split up, and other friends inevitably fail at romance. The theme of these individual stories is an important one: romances based on feelings and pleasurable experiences are bound to fail. Commitment and selflessness are the only salvation for human relationships.
For what this film is, The Last Kiss should be celebrated for its messages about self-sacrifice and commitment, but I couldn’t help but feel that the characters’ lives were still overwhelmingly empty without some larger spiritual purpose. Ultimately, the truths contained in the film fail to justify its graphic sexual content, which alone forces me to discourage all but the most mature audiences from viewing this film. To learn these truths about selfless love, I would prefer to read the writings of the late Pope John Paul II any day.