‘Kiss’ has just enough emotion

By Stacie Wieland

“The Last Kiss” is the story of Michael (Zach Braff), a 29-year-old architect, and Jenna (Jacinda Barrett), his girlfriend of three years and the mother of his unborn child.

In the beginning of the movie, Michael confesses to the audience that if he has to become an adult, Jenna is the woman he wants to do it with. She’s described as being “perfect.” She’s smart, beautiful and makes him laugh. What more can a guy ask for? While at a friend’s wedding, however, Michael realizes the rest of his life is more or less planned out; There just aren’t any surprises left. Enter Kim (Rachel Bilson), a college student who piques Michael’s curiosity, who introduces what the film is ultimately about: choices.

This is yet another movie that drives home the old adage “don’t judge a film by its trailer.”

The trailers on television alluded to a romantic comedy of sorts — or at the very least, something light-hearted. Don’t be so easily fooled; It is an emotional roller coaster, and to be honest, holds the potential to make viewers somewhat uncomfortable. It explores the belief that life isn’t easy, and not everything turns out as you might want it to. Not everything winds up in a neat little box topped with a pretty pink bow.

The recurring questions like “How did I get here? Where am I going? What am I doing with my life?” can hit very close to home, and twist the audience’s collective stomachs into thousands of little knots — arousing both interest and sympathy for the characters.

Michael’s journey to find what’s really important to him, risking everything he holds dear in the process, is nothing less than a giant contradiction, causing conflicting responses in someone watching. It is exciting, dangerous and heart-wrenching all at once. As the perfect, planned life Michael had at the start begins to deteriorate around him, the audience can’t take their eyes off the screen, for fear they might miss a second of the train wreck that seems inevitable.

Braff was the perfect choice as the leading man. His performance is stunning — he is able to breathe so much life into a character so convincingly, that one is able to forget they’re in a theater at all.

In the wake of chaos, what’s left of Michael’s life is uncertain, even after the end of the movie. And as the credits roll, all that’s left is the most anyone can ask for — hope.

With its disarming subject matter and emotional appeal, “The Last Kiss” might not be for everyone. But for those who choose to see it, it is a stark reminder of what a good movie should be. It makes you think, it keeps you talking for days and it is able to tap into something everyone can identify with.

Stacie Wieland is a film critic for the Northern Star.