The French romance Shall We Kiss is both thoroughly modern and a throwback to ancient storytelling traditions, when tales began with somebody on the road to Canterbury, for instance, interacting with someone else and then telling a story. That framing device is more romantic if not more interesting than the story-within-the-story of this Emmanuel Mouret film that's in French with English subtitles. It's a drawn-out tease that may or may not be a "prelude to a kiss."
In Nantes, strangers meet, dine together and wonder, at the end of the evening, if they should kiss. But she (Julie Gayet) thinks of these people she knows, their story, and balks. He ( Michael Cohen) wants to know why.
Thus she tells us the long, daft, not-remotely-realistic tale of Judith (Virginie Ledoyen) and Nicolas (writer-director Mouret), two lifelong platonic pals who decide, in a fairly clinical way, to give the love-starved Nicolas a little human intimacy.
And thus it all starts with a kiss. Before you know it, they're having sex to forget the kiss, having uncomfortable sex to forget the great sex and plotting to set Judith's husband up with Nicolas' girlfriend.
More quirky than wacky, this winning comedy only hits its romantic high when we return to that framing story, the storyteller who won't casually kiss because she knows, damn well, there's no such thing as a casual "French" kiss.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times