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A modern look at lasting love

September 26, 2006|by KELSEY LIDZ

"The Last Kiss" brilliantly uses light comedy to soften an intense plot which explores common fears about love and marriage and the predictability of domesticated life.

Michael (Zach Braff) is madly in love with Jenna (Jacinda Barrett), his girlfriend of three years. But when she becomes unexpectedly pregnant, their relationship is forced to take a step forward, a step that Michael is not at ease with.

He sees himself being backed into marriage and his future grows dim. "There's no more surprises," he says.

Michael can't help but see the deteriorating relationships of everyone close to him as a sign of the inevitable failure of committed relationships. His friend Chris (Casey Affleck) is contemplating leaving his girlfriend because the responsibilities of having a baby have torn them apart.

Jenna looks to her parents' strong marriage as proof of how people in love can be content. But then she discovers her mother (Blythe Danner) is miserable in her marriage and has had an affair with another man.

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Then, Michael meets Kim (Rachel Bilson), a young and pretty college student who represents the carefree life that he is reluctant to let go of. She provides a compelling argument that he cannot tie himself down to something that he is so obviously not satisfied with. By getting to know Kim, Micheal realizes, possibly too late, that a deep and loving relationship with Jenna is what he really wants.

"The Last Kiss" uses a meaningful soundtrack to deepen its sentiment. Many of that same artists in this soundtrack were also heard in Braff's "Garden State" (such as Coldplay, the Cary Brothers and Imogen Heap). Their moving songs provide a powerful backdrop to the movie, and intensify each scene, whether it is joyful or incredibly depressing.

This, combined with a cast of convincing, easy-to-relate-to actors, makes "The Last Kiss" a must-see for adults, but heavy language and a few intense sex scenes make this movie a little much for younger audiences. The movie is rated R for sexuality, nudity and language.

If you appreciated "Garden State" and dig chick flicks, then "The Last Kiss" is probably for you. It's good for guys, too; the three I went to see it with - my dad, brother and boyfriend - all gave it a thumbs up.

With its wit, insight, humor and depth, this critic gives "The Last Kiss" a B+.

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