The Last Kiss may be four years old (2006), but it is one that will remain a classic for me; a film with a real knowledge of life and relationships, which gets to me every time.
Zach Braff, better known as JD from Scrubs, plays the protagonist of the film, Michael, a man halfway through life in exactly the place he had always imagined to be. But fear kicks in when his girlfriend of 3 years, Jenna, played by Jacinda Barrett, falls pregnant. Michael realises that his future has now been set out for him, with all surprises in life over. This is when he meets university student, Kim, played by Rachel Bilson (Summer from The OC), whose appearance tempts Michael into believing that marriage and children don’t have to end his life just yet.
There are also four other relationships, stories and choices-to-be-made revealed around this. These are through Michael’s three best friends. First, there is Chris. Chris and his girlfriend have just had a baby, but the reliability and stress of being parents has torn their relationship apart rather than build a family. There is then Izzy, an emotional wreck who is still in love with his ex-girlfriend and finding it hard to move on. And of course, there has to be at least one in the friendship group who has a different girl every night. Accordingly, we are presented with the rigorous sex life of Kenny, a character not really doing much else with his life.
It’s through the wrong choices that these characters make in their relationships, including Michael, that teaches each of them a lesson. This reality is also what gives the film such a strong meaning.
Stop talking about love. Every asshole in the world says he loves somebody. It means nothing. It still doesn’t mean anything. What you feel only matters to you. It’s what you do to the people you say you love, that’s what matters. It’s the only thing that counts.”
Although it would be easiest to relate to these ‘new’ and ‘young’ relationships, it’s the story unfolded around Jenna’s parents which fills me with tears. Michael will not marry Jenna unless she can name three couples whose marriage has lasted more than five years. All Jenna has to offer is her parents. But she soon after receives a phone call from her mother, Anna, saying that she is leaving her father, Stephen.
Anna and Stephen’s relationship was distressing to watch. Blythe Danner played Anna’s character with such a brilliantly realistic emotion that you can see the pain behind her eyes. This is contrasted against a sarcastic carelessness from Stephen, played by Tom Wilkinson. It is obvious that the two have fallen out of touch, and out of love. Anna soon admits to having an affair a few years back and moves out of the family home. But this short separation only makes the two remember the feelings they had lost, and that an effort needs to be made to stay together.
Michael: I’ll do anything.
Stephen: People say that, they don’t mean it.
Michael: But I mean it!
Stephen: Well it’s very simple… do whatever it takes.
Michael: It’s that simple?
Stephen: Yes…you can’t fail if you don’t give up.
And by anything, Michael meant anything. Jenna has, at this point, kicked Michael out of the house for cheating on her. (with, may I add, a brilliant sex scene between Braff and Bilson!) The ending is beautiful; Michael has spent days sleeping, sitting, waiting on the front porch for Jenna to take him back. The film ends with the door opening just before the credits start to roll.
The storyline, for me, was brilliant in every way. And the actors played their characters perfectly, creating a truly realistic, and moving film. It’s definitely a film I would recommend to buy and keep on your shelf.