In “A Kiss and a Promise,” which claims to be based on actual events, the owner of a small-town B&B has kinky sex with his wife (it’s her thing) but finds emotional solace cuddling in the arms of their semipermanent male tenant. Also, he strangles female strangers.
Meant as a hybrid of a serial-killer tale and a semi-serious domestic drama, the film never quite brings those dangling strands together in anything but a narratively convenient way. The love triangle is presumably meant to somehow explore the ways in which people often willingly turn a blind eye to even the worst in a partner to keep things on an even keel, but fails to offer any deeper insight.
Lead actor Mick Rossi co-wrote the script with director Phillip Guzman, and why an actor would create a starring part for himself this thin and underdeveloped is beyond explanation.
Occasional flourishes, such as when the camera flips upside down to focus on Natasha Gregson Wagner’s flushed afterglow following a vigorous bout of choked-out sex, feel like accouterment rather than inherent points of style or storytelling.
A pair of detectives lingering on the periphery of the story help provide a twist at the end that is well-handled and carries an unexpected irony, but it is really too, too little coming far, far too late.
“A Kiss and a Promise.” No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. At Laemmle’s Sunset 5, West Hollywood.