Harvey Critic - 18/06

KISSES (Oscilloscope Laboratories)

Sometimes it pays off to be the kind of kid that teachers hate, that parents slap around, that are anything but the Good-Two-Shoes types who think they have it made. In the movies and in literature, they make for more interesting characters, the kind that the girls go for before settling down with the nice guys who will make good fathers. Think of the vastly entertaining "400 Blows," which features Jean-Pierre Léaud as Antoine Doinel, a misunderstand teen who is ignored at home and opts for a life of petty crime. Or how about Richie Andrusco's role as Joey Norton in Ray Ashley and Morris Engel's 1953 movie "Little Fugitive," a fellow who runs away to Coney Island thinking that he had killed his brother. Spellbinding stuff.

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Oscilloscope Laboratories

Reviewed for Arizona Reporter
By Harvey Karten

Grade: B-
Directed By: Lance Daly
Written By: Lance Daly
Cast: Kelly O'Neill, Shane Curry, Paul Roe, Neili Conro
Screened at: Review 2, NYC, 6/16/10
Opens: July 16, 2010

"Kisses" is no "400 Blows" and Lance Daly is no François Truffaut, but a viewer can see why its two small-fry, non-professional performers were chosen after getting the roles that over a thousand Dublin kids had allegedly tried for. Kelly O'Neill and Shane Curry as Kylie and Dylan respectively were picked for their independence; the former for pulling out a comfortable chair during casting instead of listening to instructions to sit in the wooden seats, the latter for refusing to make tea for Kelly while the other candidates followed instructions.

The principal thing that "Kisses" have going for it is the acting of the two young leads who play (I'm guessing) high-school freshmen (if they go to school at all). Otherwise "Kisses" is a short story that could fit into your flat-screen TV, a minor work particularly if judged against the aforementioned giants.

Though the term "inner city" refers to ghettoes in the U.S., the term broadly interpreted could mean the rows of shanty houses, dumps called kips in Irish slang, somewhere outside central Dublin where next-door neighbors Kylie and Dylan live. When they're not acting the maggot with one another or with family or outside kids, they're curious about each other. Kylie, who looks about 14 years old, asks Dylan what he wants to be because "I'll not marry you if you become a nothing and you're going to keep living in the kip!" Their parents are bowsers, the types who have lots of kids so they can enjoy some variety slapping them around. After Dylan's dad punches the boy's mom, Dylan socks the old man in turn, then takes off running with Kylie into central Dublin, known in Irish slang as An Lár. "Kisses" becomes a road-and-buddy movie, the interest hopefully coming not only from the relationship of this young couple but from the oddball people they meet in the city. They run into an Australian singer (played by an uncredited Stephen Rea) who, like several others that they run into, is familiar with the songs of Bob Dylan, which dominate the soundtrack.

There are light moments and darker ones: the film starts off in black-and-white to signify the rut that informs the lives of people who live in the kip, then turns to modified color to portray the lively scene in town. As Dylan looks for his brother, who had disappeared two years back, he and Kylie run into weirdos and nice guys, with Kylie, the kid with the stronger personality, refusing to go home.

As a fictional work, "Kisses" embraces the lives of people living in a desolate suburban dump, doing a better job of giving us sociological insight than a documentary would. A climactic moment, as it were, comes as the two friends engage in a long, French kiss, a prelude one might think to a life together with the six or eight kids that they'll add to the kip and slap around. Agus mar sin Tarlaíonn gach glúin na botúin de na cinn roimhe seo.

KISSES (Oscilloscope Laboratories)
Unrated. 76 minutes. © 2010 by Harvey Karten Member: NY Film Critics Online

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