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Kissed is a Canadian drama film, released in 1996. It was written and directed by Lynne Stopkewich. The only other film Stopkewich is known for is "Suspicious River", released 4 years after Kissed, starring the same lead actress and a similar sexually-themed plot. Just for the record, this entire thing is pretty weird, even by my standards.
Kissed begins with a rather pretentious prelude philosophizing on the nature of life and death. It then quickly subsides, entirely discordantly, into the life and times of someone called Sandra Larson.
When we first meet Sandra she isn't much more than a girl, but Sandra's romantic ideals about life and death quickly transmute into something a bit more sinister as she goes through puberty. This only worsens as she ages and finds her calling in becoming an embalmer. Yes - Kissed is ultimately about necrophilia. We've all been there.
Well, actually, I haven't. Though I have lusted over a few dead people in my time, mostly it's their celluloid ghosts I'm into, rather than their actual cadavers. Sandra feels somewhat differently. This is her story.
Kissed primarily conveys itself as a film made by women for women. I'm not just referring to the lack of gore or T&A (actually Molly Parker, who plays Sandra, is naked in one or two scenes), but more to the way the film is self-consciously sensitive in its handling of the main issue.
Early on in Kissed we are treated to the genesis of Sandra's fetish. As a child she used to find dead animals and lay them to rest, sending them off with some vaguely Wiccan dancing to boot. The problem is, this entire scene is narrated by Molly Parker in a vague summary of what we're seeing on screen. To me, this was jarring and unnecessary. I like to be shown and not told. This narration dips in and out of the main action several times, all of them loathsome.
Speaking of ugliness, readers may wonder, in their unquenchable thirst for knowledge, how explicit this movie is in its portrayal of necrophilia.
Kissed has a rating of R but I felt it didn't particularly contain any nastiness. It's rather apparent the cadavers are actors in white powder (trying desperately hard not to laugh). As for Parker herself she goes full frontal maybe once, but it's not gratuitous. This is mostly due to the stark white lighting of the morgue that conceals almost everything in unbearable brightness. Most of the time Sandra's wearing a turtleneck and ugly trousers. To be frank, her clothes are probably one of the most offensive things in this movie. Maybe second to her hair-cut.
The other aspect is more disgusting than offensive - and actually has nothing to do with dead people. In earlier parts of the movie, the young Sandra rubs dead animals on herself. This really ooked me out, even though the animals are obviously fake. Why couldn't someone have paid for this child to see a psychologist - ten psychologists? Then this entire movie could have been avoided.
As for acting, most of the movie is just Molly Parker and dead people, so it's understandably a little stiff. Parker is OK; it's difficult to judge her acting skill because she's so often silently having sex with a dead person. Peter Outerbridge has the second most prominent role as Sandra's boyfriend later on in the film, but to be honest, he's really annoying. I think it's a combination of his eyebrows and his character's desperately boring pleas for attention (to be fair, battling for the affections of his lover with corpses could reduce someone to that). It doesn't help that Outerbridge and Parker have about as much chemistry as oil and water. I was rooting for Sandra and the corpse at one point. (You go get 'em, girl.)
There is one more thing I'd like to address, because it made me laugh. This is probably the reason my overall impression of the direction was so bad. As in all good sex scenes made for women, Stopkewich tries to imply some deep meaning in the union. What this basically means is that the orgasms Sandra experiences have a visual representation, akin to a light at the end of the tunnel. Now, on the surface this is a rather clever pun (petite mort and all). However, visually... it's more like footage stolen from a 70s sci-fi show, low-budget special effects manically trying to convey the illusion of entering a wormhole. And it just keeps happening. It just keeps happening...
Even with all its faults, at 78 minutes long, this is blissfully short movie. As a romantic drama goes, it's pretty unique, even if the two leads look about as engaged as some of the cadavers. If you find the subject matter interesting, it may be worth your time, even if it's not to die for.
Price (ATOR): £11.99
Number of discs: 1
DVD Release Date: 12 Mar 2007
Run Time: 75 minutes