An adaptation of the 2001 Italian film, “L’Ultimo Bacio”, “The Last Kiss” centers around Michael (Zach Braff) and Jenna (Jacinda Barrett) who find out they’re going to have a baby, despite not being fully prepared. Michael is 29 years old and faced with the new responsibilities of being a dad, getting married, and his growing fear that his life holds no more surprises and that his youth is behind him. Jenna is, in his own words, the kind of girl you want to settle down with, but Michael still can’t overcome the worry that their being fully committed means the end of his life as he knows it. When they attend the wedding of one of their mutual friends, things start to unravel for Michael when he meets a young college student, Kim (Rachel Bilson).
Kim approaches him and doesn’t even attempt to hide the fact that she’s interested in getting to know him better, even though she knows he has a girlfriend. While Kim is supposed to represent this free-spirited, youthful, smart, alluring woman that Michael is willing to sacrifice his relationship with Jenna for, the character never feels that special. She comes off more needy and more like a stalker than a fantasy package that Michael simply can’t resist.
What makes the film interesting isn’t Michael's struggle to decide if a life with Jenna is what he really wants, but it’s the people around him who represent the many types of relationships he fears. There’s his friends Chris (Casey Affleck), Kenny (Eric Christian Olsen) and Izzy (Michael Weston) who each face their own relationship issues. When Chris and his wife had a baby boy, he thought it would bring them closer together, but every day is a struggle for them that brings them further apart.
Kenny is afraid of commitment and pursues women who seem equally detached. Izzy and his girlfriend recently broke up and he’s a complete mess and can’t seem to come to grips with being without her. Then there’s Jenna’s parents, (one of the best parts of the film) Stephen and Anna (Tom Wilkinson and Blythe Danner), who have been together for thirty years and hardly communicate with each other. Danner and Wilkinson are fantastic in their roles here, so much so that I almost wish the film had been more about them.
The film isn’t necessarily anything new: guy on the brink of adulthood and responsibility freaks out and while seeing someone else discovers he had what he was looking for all along. While the film lost my interest in a few parts, the cast and writing manages to hold together this film about several kinds of relationships. Another aspect of the film that really made it worth watching was Jacinda Barrett who is remarkable as Jenna. Barrett has an amazing ability to go from incredibly likeable and lighthearted to utterly heartbroken. “The Last Kiss” is a decent film, but its downfalls are the characters of Michael and Kim. I know Michael’s not supposed to be perfect, in fact it’s his imperfections that are supposed to drive the film, but there was something so one-note about him that I found myself not caring about Michael at all and believing Jenna could do a lot better.
VIDEO: Paramount presents the film in 2.35:1 (1080p/AVC). This is a mildly above-average presentation from the studio, excelling in some areas and falling a tad short in others. Sharpness and detail were reasonably good, but could vary somewhat, as while most scenes looked crisp and well-defined, others could come across looking a little soft.
As for flaws, the print used did show a few minor specks and dirt at times, but otherwise generally appeared clean. A few instances of slight edge enhancement appear, but are hardly a distraction. Colors look natural and appear accurate, with fine saturation and no smearing.
SOUND: The film is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1. Aside from a scene with some thunder off in the distance, this was purely a dialogue-driven effort, with the surrounds only coming into play to offer some reinforcement of the music. Audio quality was fine, with crisp, natural dialogue and warm music.
EXTRAS: Commentary with Zach Braff and Director Tony Goldwyn. They talk about filming locations, casting, and what went out behind the scenes. While there are some quiet moments, it doesn’t take away from the commentary. I found this commentary more interesting than the one with several other cast members. The second commentary is with: Zach Braff, Tony Goldwyn, Rachel Bilson, Jacinda Barrett, Michael Weston and Eric Christian Olsen. I expected a more lively commentary with this group, but there are some lags in conversation. When they do talk they offer some decent insights about the making of the film, occasionally all trying to chat at once.
“The Last Kiss- Filmmakers Perspective” Director Tony Goldwyn and Producer Gary Lucchesi talk about obtaining the rights to “L’Ultimo Bacio” and their thoughts about the story. “The Last Kiss - Getting Together” has Director Tony Goldwyn, Producer Gary Lucchesi and script writer Paul Haggis talk about adapting the original screenplay and the decision to change the ending. Discussion of casting also takes place and the actors offer their views on their roles as well as some of the other characters and performances. In “The Last Kiss - Behind Our Favorite Scenes” -the cast as well as Director Tony Goldwyn and Producer Gary Lucchesi talk about some of the pivotal scenes and why they’re their favorites. “The Last Kiss - Last Thoughts” is a collection of final thoughts about what the film means to several people involved in making the film.
Also included on the DVD are “Music Video : Cary Brothers “Ride” performance version with Zach Braff introduction”, Gag Reel and Theatrical Trailer.
Final Thoughts: "The Last Kiss" is a bit of a mixed bag, as while some of the performances are moving and enjoyable, some of the characters could have used some refining. The Blu-Ray edition boasts fine audio/video quality, as well as a good deal of supplements. Rent it.
The Film C+