In Search of a Midnight Kiss Alex Holdridge

In Search of a Midnight Kiss Alex Holdridge
Filmic romance owes a lot to walking. From Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise and Before Sunset to Aaron Katz's Quiet City, wandering flirtations play well on celluloid. Perpetually changing backgrounds frame eloquent palavers and smooth over awkward moments. In Search of a Midnight Kiss falls into this genre of meandering, nascent-affair pictures. However, its Los Angeles setting, sincerity and self-awareness distinguish it from its predecessors. On New Year's Eve, earnest DJ Jacob (Brian McGuire) encourages misanthropic friend Wilson (Scoot McNairy) to seek internet companionship, ostensibly so he has someone to kiss at midnight. It leads him to quick-witted Vivian (Sara Simmonds) and the aforementioned wandering begins. Meanwhile, Jacob's faltering relationship with disinterested girlfriend Min (Kathleen Luong) stumbles forward. The interplay between the growing romance and the wavering one grounds the former while humanizing the latter. The characters' candour and pragmatism juxtaposes compellingly with their whimsy and romanticism. Ultimately, the film sides definitively with neither and that's what differentiates it from others like it. In age and experience the leads bridge their Before Sunrise and Before Sunset (with which this film shares a producer, Anne Walker-McBay) counterparts. They see the danger of romantic idealism but aren't sure they want to abandon it. Still, they can't reconcile the ideal and the reality, and they know it; that's what's so refreshing and honest. Throughout, writer/director Alex Holdridge deftly utilizes downtown Los Angeles, making rundown theatres, underused subways and abandoned public spaces starkly beautiful vessels for long takes and extended conversations. This type of L.A. is seldom seen and the director capitalizes on its scruffy charm. Furthermore, Holdridge doesn't rely too heavily on his clever script or pretty vistas. Sporadically, he reveals tiny evocative moments: gum fights off morning-breath; flowers from strangers quell tears; and discarded cigarettes are tellingly, surreptitiously retrieved. The effect is highly personal and inclusive. The scant DVD package has gratuitous deleted scenes and a surfeit of worthy trailers. Beyond the lack of supplementary features, the disc ill advisedly uses a colour print rather than the 35mm black and white that played theatrically. Despite the prevalence of modern allusions (MySpace, Craigslist, etc.) and technology (cell phones play an important part), the film has a timeless allure that the black and white cut enhances. Nonetheless, in its current form, In Search of a Midnight Kiss remains one of the most quietly moving, intelligent, genuinely funny and true romances of the year. (Seville)