Published Apr 09, 2009A charming, if slight, diversion in the vein of Eric Rohmer's particular oeuvre, Shall We Kiss? could be described as either an elaborate examination of why hookers don't kiss or as a titillating deterrent from opening Pandora's Box within a hermetically sealed fantasy world. Either way, some viewers will bitch about the artifice of it all, while others will find a truth within this ornate exploration of conflict aversion, regardless of surface believability.
As the title and pretty pink poster imply, this is a love, err, lust story between four pretty 30somethings who talk ad nauseam about feelings and intentions, rationalizing and over-analyzing every thought and motivation in an often-amusing manner. Lifelong best friends Judith (Virginie Ledoyen) and Nicolas (Emmanuel Mouret) hit a snag in their friendship when Nicolas complains of rampant horniness that time with a "no kiss policy" whore (Marie Madinier) will not cure, as he can't get off without a little macking.
Inevitably, the pair engages in a bout of mechanical coitus, which leads to increased mutual affections, despite the fact that Judith is engaged to Claudio (Stefano Accorsi). To complicate matters, Nicolas starts up a milquetoast relationship with the seemingly vacuous Caline (Frederique Bel). This is all framed as an allegory for why Emilie (Julie Gayet), the narrator, will not kiss Gabriel (Michael Cohen), a man she meets in a cab at the beginning of the film.
These indiscretions are handled with a consciousness of social expectations and manners that is not removed from consequence or rationalization. Rather it aims to point out that in the game of love, pain is inevitable when rejection is involved, no matter how beautifully that rejection is gift-wrapped.
Therein lies the thesis and plight of the seemingly harmless titular kiss, as the thrill of the unknown is often better than the resultant reality, despite fears of potential regret. (Kinosmith)