Hollywood, it often seems, has forgotten how to make romantic comedies. But you can still find love in the independent cinema, thanks to the winning and budget-conscious In Search of a Midnight Kiss.
Imagine Before Sunrise with dialogue and situations from Kevin Smith's Clerks, photographed by Woody Allen's cinematographer. That's In Search of a Midnight Kiss, one of those raunchy-funny, smart and bittersweet no-budget movies that restores your faith in indie film.
It's about hooking up on New Year's Eve in Los Angeles in the age of MySpace and Craig's List. That's where poor, pitiful, lonesome Wilson (Scoot McNairy -- yes, his name is Scoot and he's Buscemi-good) meets the manic, chain-smoking, mix-her-medications Vivian (Sara Simmonds, brilliant in every emotion, whim and one-liner she plays). He posts an ad on New Year's Eve. She calls him. She baits him. She curses and prays and teases, and it's a mean kind of "no sex for you" teasing. She has all these demands and she only plans on giving him five minutes to make a New Year's Eve-worthy impression.
"What are you looking for?" he says, getting a word in edgewise on Miss Edgy.
"The love of my life."
Sigh. He's toast in her hands. So are we.
The evening is like outtakes from Something Wild or Swingers as they walk seedy downtown LA, catch the subway to Hollywood, and have adventures. Writer-director Alex Holdridge's script has a testy tang to it as it arcs from angry to sweet. The leads are lovely. And cinematographer Robert Murphy's black-and-white view of the city comes close to making LA as romantic as you-know-who's Manhattan.