Cinerama: French Kiss

Posted: September 11, 2009 in Cinerama

French Kiss

By Mike Derderian

Years ago, as I leafed through what might be regarded as the forbidden pages of Anis Mansors’s book History: Fangs and Talons, taking into account that I was only fifteen of age, I found out that according to Mansor the human lips were shaped in their current interlocked form to transmit efficiently and delicately one’s deepest emotions—a fact that can be demonstrated through kissing. And throughout history, many writers regarded the act of kissing as a prelude to love.

So, what makes French Kiss so special? Well, it is hilariously funny, for starters, and it will make you want to fall in love again thanks to a superb performance on part of Meg Ryan and an assuming character called Luc Teyssier played by Kevin Kline. Huh, you thought I was going to tell you about the real thing, didn’t you? Well, not in my column.

Directed by Lawerance Kasdan the 1990 French Kiss is a romantic comedy set in dans le capital de romance, Paris, which was, and still is, the favorite filming spot for a lot of directors. This 111-minute fun-to-watch film also stars Timothy Hutton, Renee Humprhey and Jean Reno as a hardboiled French detective called Jean Paul.

I’ve never been to Paris myself but who knows maybe in a few years when I pay my frog-eating comrades a visit, I would write a story entitled A Jordanian in Paris and start tap-dancing just like Jean Kelly on the roof tops of houses lining the streets of the elegant Champs-Elysées.

Of course for the leading lady role I would cast Leslie Caron, Brigitte Bardot, Jeanne Moreau or the ageless Catherine Deneuve, whom are all renowned French Femme Fatal figures I’ve been fortunate enough to watch on screen in French- and English-speaking films.

Sorry for the brief detour; French Kiss is about losing love and finding it again in a different continent, not to mention in a different accent. It is about a happily-engaged woman called Kate (Ryan), who gave up her American passport for a Canadian one in order to get married to her fiancée Charlie (Hutton), just to find out that he left her for a younger French beauty during his stay in France.

And what does she do? She heads to Paris. And it is from this point on that the exciting French experience of Kate begins; and to be more specific it all starts when she finds herself sitting next to an eccentric Frenchman called Luc Tyssier (Kline) heading to Paris.

After eyeing him strangely, a very funny conversation would soon pick up between them; however, it’s not your typical friendly ice breaker, especially when feelings of flight nausea kicks in—like the one’s Kate had before the flight.

“I like you. But I don’t like the way you say with your face all scrunched up, ‘you’re French, aren’t you?’ And then I don’t like how you say, with your pouty expression, ‘all men are bastards’,” says Luc, whose little speech on how Kate reaction was didn’t add to his popularity with this grumpy, but cute, lady.

Ryan’s portrayal of the feisty and twitchy American stranded in Paris was one of the groundbreaking roles in her film career which further established her already known reputation as a comedian, in films like Addicted to Love, Joe Versus the Volcano and You’ve Got Mail.

Kevin Kline’s portrayal of the seemingly brutish Tyssier with a noticeable French-accent was one of the successful and most loveable elements for this film. Kline, who won an Oscar for his role as Otto West, a demented robber in the 1988 black comedy A Fish Called Wanda, managed to create yet another happy-go-lucky persona incarnate in Tyssier.

The Frenchmen persona that Kline sported with a thick moustache and an uncouth beard transmitted a rather charismatic image. Filled with dreams of having his own vineyard, a side of Tyessier’s gentler persona is revealed to us as the film’s events continue and his relationship with Kate develops through the course of the hilarious scenes when they finally spot the rampaged fiancée sun tanning on a beach with his French love.

Half way through the film and Kate still hasn’t seen the Eiffel Tower, why? This was one of the enjoyable aspects in this film regarding cinematography using artistic frames that would block her view, which will later on reappear in a sequence filled with splendor in one of her worst moments of loneliness.

Being stuck in Paris with no passport, will Kate get Charlie back with the help of Luc—who has his own set of troubles, one of which is him being followed by his detective friend Jean Paul for stealing a diamond bracelet—or will she return home disappointed?

French Kiss in the more subliminal level is about pursuing one’s passion and never giving up no matter how difficult it can get. And, contrary to what the title might suggest, this enjoyable film is totally French-kiss-free and is suitable for all family members.

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