Kiss Me (Kyss mig)

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“Why did you kiss me?”

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When the newly engaged Mia arrives at her estranged father’s house for his birthday celebration, she meets Frida.  The daughter of her father’s fiance, Frida is a lanky blonde lesbian who immediately catches Mia’s eye.  For Mia and Frida, everything is about to be upended as they embark on an illicit affair.

Kiss Me (Kyss mig) is the 2011 Swedish relationship drama directed by Alexandra-Therese Keining starring Ruth Vega Fernandez as Mia and Liv Mjönes as Frida.

Alexandra Therese Keining's Kiss MeI have a complicated relationship with Kiss Me.

On the one hand, director Alexandra-Therese Keining has an amazing sense of the female body, of expressing desire through little more than a gesture.  She also has a clear idea of how to shoot a love scene between two women in which the technical physicality is not only completely realistic but it is also emotionally charged.

On the other hand, as an openly gay woman I have to ask the question – isn’t anyone else tired of this story line?  Kiss Me, at first glance seems like a more sexualized version of the romantic dramedy, Imagine Me & You, starring Lena Headey and Piper Perabo, in which a heterosexually involved woman meets and falls in love with another woman.

But, thankfully, that’s where all comparison falls away.

Alexandra Therese Keining's Kiss Me

Kiss Me is probably one of the most fully rounded lesbian-themed films to be produced in recent years complete with rich, detailed characters.  Combined with the chemistry between the two leads, the cinematography and screenplay, Kiss Me deals with the relationship between Mia and Frida in a realistic and fearless manner.

Both women are meeting at inopportune moments in their lives: Mia is about to be married, Mia’s father is about to marry Frida’s mother, and Frida is in a relationship of her own.  Neither of them are looking for what happens.  It’s messy and sexy and inescapable.  Just like real life.  The ridiculously attractive leads, Fernandez and Mjönes, are completely capable of providing performances that convey their characters various flaws and quirks.

Delicious!

Alexandra Therese Keining's Kiss Me

Kiss Me also features a terrific soundtrack with songs by Jose Gonzalez (“Lovestain“), Robyn (“With Every Heartbeat“), The Perfect Kiss, and Kultiration (“Seen and Gone“).  Proving, yet again, that the music selected for a film impacts everything about the film as an overall experience – the emotion, the energy, the pace.  In Kiss Me, the music lends that hunger and burst of hope so often intimately linked with love.  This makes it absolutely crucial.

Even on a smaller indie-sized budget, I think it behooves film producers to take a strong look at their scoring and soundtrack options.  While directors like Donna Deitch (Desert Hearts) are known for spending a huge chunk of their production budget on music licensing, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s required and that’s not what I’m suggesting.

To underestimate the power of music in a film is pretty damn close to blasphemy, in my book.  I’m happy that, for the most part, Kiss Me gets it right.

Alexandra Therese Keining's Kiss Me

The lighting and cinematography play a critical role in Kiss Me.  Ragna Jorming, the cinematographer for Kiss Me, frames shots carefully and is unafraid of over saturating them in light when Mia and Frida are alone together, with everything laid bare between them.  There is nothing to hide and no way to hide it if there was.

The filming locations don’t hurt, either.

When you are confident enough to strand your lead characters on an island with no chance of escape, some people might call you lazy.  I call you awesome.  After all, you’ve just forced your characters into a situation where they are surrounded by water.  What better metaphor for Mia, for Frida, and their transitory, fluid positions in life?

A favorite moment in Kiss Me is about 30 minutes in.  The women have just shared a kiss in a small boating shed after night fishing.  Frida’s mother interrupts them and together, they start to head home on their bikes.  As Frida maneuvers the bike they share, Mia’s arms wrap around her waist.  Mia leans her head against Frida’s back, nestling in and closing her eyes.  The director focuses on Frida’s face and there is this look – it is so pure – of complete and utter contentment.

It’s lovely and the film is peppered with great moments.

Alexandra Therese Keining's Kiss Me

There’s nothing clean about Kiss Me.  People fall in love.  People get hurt.  Relationships are built and broken.    You aren’t going to come away from this film untouched.

It’s definitely my favorite film on the The Top 20 Sapphic Moments in Cinema.

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Qualifying Scene Sticker

Alexandra-Therese Keining's Kiss Me(Click on image to enlarge)

#2 – The Top 20 Sapphic Moments in Cinema

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Alexandra-Therese Keining's Kiss Me

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Trailer:

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Behind the Scenes:

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Watch now on Busk Films

Click to watch KYSS MIG now!

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Wiki facts: Kiss Me

Is Kiss Me rotten or fresh?

Kiss Me on TUMBLR

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2 responses to “Kiss Me (Kyss mig)

  1. What a perfect way to describe this film, and all of what makes it so fascinating; from Alexandra-Therese Keining’s keen eye for capturing subtle gestures charged with meaning, to Ragna Jorming’s mastery of the magic hour, and the weight of its soundtrack (not only the songs it features, but also their timing; for example, in the scene you mentioned, when they’re riding a bike and Mia leans her head against Frida’s back, and “Kissing the Waves” begins, right then).

    And what about the exchange of glances between Ruth Vega Fernandez and Liv Mjönes? It’s almost an audible dialogue, specially at the end of the movie. That’s what I call “talent”.

    Great review!

  2. Cristina, thank you so much for the great comment. I couldn’t agree with you more – everything from the silent language of eye contact, to the absolute perfection of the lighting makes this film an utter gem. It definitely raises the bar and I can’t help but (not so) secretly wish for a sequel… 🙂

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