‘Shall We Kiss?’ is totally sweet, never heavy

  • By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic
  • Thursday, April 23, 2009 4:11pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

If you turned the sound off for “Shall We Kiss?” and otherwise removed all cultural references, you’d still know the country of origin. This movie is as French as Freedom Fries.

People in this film meet, flirt, hesitate before acting, and occasionally sleep together. And through it all, they keep talking.

It’s essentially one long story within another framing story, although there are occasionally smaller stories within that. We begin on the streets of Nantes, where two strangers decide to share a dinner together.

Gabriel (Michael Cohen) would like to get closer to Emilie (Julie Gayet), but she’s reluctant to take it any further. She tells him a story about friends of hers, which will presumably illuminate the situation she’s in now.

This friend, a married woman named Judith (Virginie Ledoyen, late of “The Valet”), enjoys a lifelong platonic friendship with Nicolas (Emmanuel Mouret, the film’s writer-director). But suddenly he’s having a crisis.

Stricken with an inability to feel intimacy, Nicolas comes to Judith asking for help. If they become intimate — purely on an objective, nonromantic basis, of course — it might help his situation.

No points for guessing this decision is going to create a whole new set of problems. The pleasure of “Shall We Kiss?” comes from watching those problems unwind, and in trying to guess how they might affect Emilie and Gabriel in their framing story.

None of this has the slightest weight, but in an odd way that’s part of the appeal of the movie. The encounter between Emilie and Gabriel lasts for a single evening and consists mostly of an absorbing conversation.

The movie plays as though it were somebody’s fond memory of a night that really didn’t go anywhere, but made an impression anyway.

Director Mouret’s style is quiet and calm, and the Judith- Nicolas story seems to take place almost entirely in different shades of beige. This makes an amusing counterpoint to the foolish things his characters are doing.

This is the first of Mouret’s comedies to get a decent U.S. release, but in France he has something of a reputation as a Woody Allen type, a throwback to comedians of the past. The pleasant but mild “Shall We Kiss?” suggests he’s still a distance away from “Annie Hall.”

Talk to us

More in Life

The 2023 Infiniti QX80 has standard rear-wheel drive and optional four-wheel drive available on all models. (Infiniti)
2023 Infiniti QX80 is powerful and posh

A mighty V8 engine does the work while a luxurious interior provides the pleasure.

Artist Michelle Downes prepares to work on a few canvases in her garage workspace on Thursday, July 6, 2023, at her family’s home in Stanwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Stanwood artist Michelle Downes creates layered dreamscapes in resin

Resin is one part chemistry and one part artistry. Downes combines the two to make art that captures the imagination.

Kotor's zigzagging town wall rewards climbers with a spectacular view. (Cameron Hewitt / Rick Steves' Europe)
Rick Steves: Just south of Dubrovnik lies unpolished Montenegro

One of Europe’s youngest nations offers dramatic scenery, locals eager to show off their unique land, and a refreshing rough-around-the-edges appeal.

Dark gray wheels and black exterior accents provide extra visual appeal for the 2024 Subaru Impreza’s RS trim. (Subaru)
2024 Subaru Impreza loses a little, gains a lot

The brand’s compact car is fully redesigned. A couple of things are gone, but many more have arrived.

TSR image for calendar
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

This weekend in Snohomish: The Snohomish Blues Invasion and the Snohomish Studio Tour 2023.

Made by Bruce Hutchison, the poster for “A Momentary Diversion on the Road to the Grave” is an homage to 1985 classic “The Goonies.” (Photo provided)
Indie film premiering on Whidbey Island

Filmed almost entirely on Whidbey Island, “A Momentary Diversion on the Road to the Grave” is set to premiere in Langley.

TSR image only
Does your elementary school child have ADHD?

It’s important to identify children with this condition so we can help them succeed in school.

This photo provided by OceanGate Expeditions shows a submersible vessel named Titan used to visit the wreckage site of the Titanic. In a race against the clock on the high seas, an expanding international armada of ships and airplanes searched Tuesday, June 20, 2023, for the submersible that vanished in the North Atlantic while taking five people down to the wreck of the Titanic. (OceanGate Expeditions via AP)
A new movie based on OceanGate’s Titan submersible tragedy is in the works: ‘Salvaged’

MindRiot announced the film, a fictional project titled “Salvaged,” on Friday.

A clump of flowering ornamental grass or pennisetum alopecuroides in an autumn garden.
My garden runneth over with fountain grasses, and for good reason

These late-blooming perennials come in many varieties. They work well as accents, groundcovers, edgings or in containers.

Most Read