Here’s a romantic comedy that’s a real delight – Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline magically combine in the magnifique FRENCH KISS.
Fresh from a week’s holiday in France has made me nostalgic for all things francais and l’amour and one of my movie gems that puts both together to winning effect is Lawrence Kasdan’s film FRENCH KISS.
For Kate, love isn’t the problem – with a wonderful impending wedding and life to the gorgeous Charlie lying ahead – flying is. She’s completely scared of it and even taking a course can’t help her conquer her fear. But when her fiancé calls from his business trip to Paris to tell her he’s sorry to hurt her but he’s really fallen in love with someone else (!) and has found ‘the one’ and she’s French (!!), Kate wills herself to get on a her plane from their home in Vancouver to win him back.
And sitting in her seat, while waiting for take off and hating all things French, she meets the perfect thing to take her mind off flying, the tres Gallic, Luc Teyssier. Unfortunately (or actually very fortunately) he has the seat next to her and so begins a chalk n’ cheese relationship between the buttoned-up, tense Kate and the laid back, rule-breaker Luc that involves a diamond necklace, one tiny vine, some mistaken identity, lots of cheese, an inspector wanting to honour a debt and a little cottage on a hillside that holds the key to happiness.
After the triumphs of his movies of the 1980s and early 1990s as writer / director – the superb film-noir homage Body Heat, the impeccable ensemble dramas The Big Chill and Grand Canyon, the bravura westerns Silverado and Wyatt Earp and the pitch-perfect character piece The Accidental Tourist – Kasdan re-teamed with Kevin Kline in 1995 for FRENCH KISS. Kline, possibly a favourite actor of his and certainly a regular collaborator from most of the previously mentioned films, was in his element in this comedy romance that almost seems a throwback to the screwball pictures from the 1930s that may have starred actors like Carole Lombard and Clark Gable.
This time with a script by Adam Brooks, his Gable is the dynamite Oscar-winning Kline, giving us his best louche Frenchman and with a pixie haircut to die for, his Lombard as Kate is golden girl Meg Ryan, following up her mega romantic comedy successes a couple of years previously with When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle. Kasdan also smartly casts the fantastic Timothy Hutton in the difficult role of wayward boyfriend Charlie, the one and only Jean Reno as Inspector Jean-Paul Cardon and the brilliant Francois Cluzet pretty much steals every scene he’s in as the very gentlemanly thief Bob.
From Vancouver to Paris, then through France by train to a glittering south coast for its denouement, the film constantly charms us as Kate comes to realise that who she thought was the man of her dreams may, in fact, be the unconventional Frenchman who’s accompanying her on this journey of discovery. Mais oui! Challenging your expectations as to your perfect partner, finding your inner steel, letting go of past mistakes and of course not forgetting that all important and life-changing kiss, make this a terrifically enjoyable tres bon comedy of the heart.