Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Killer-Works Memories: Kissed

Back in 2008, I began posting a string of film reviews for Killer-Works. The web site has recently shut down, so I'll slowly re-post the reviews here. This week, I'm re-posting my review of the 1997 film, Kissed. The review was originally published on October 21, 2008.

This is the most touching and genuinely sympathetic film you are ever likely to see on the subject of necrophilia. The first half of the film follows the more or less solitary life of Sandra (Molly Parker, who later achieved more mainstream recognition with roles on Deadwood and Six Feet Under), a woman compelled to make love with corpses. Her detailed recollections and well-explored motivations elevate what at first looks like a sick fetish to something spiritual and transcendent. By the time she meets Matt (Peter Outerbridge), we have seen the world through her strange eyes and his initial fascination seems crude.

The story becomes less sensationalistic and more subtle as Sandra and Matt struggle with a problem common to most couples: seeing the world through one another's eyes. It becomes a story about Sarah trying to explain your unique worldview to a man who doesn't (and perhaps can't) share it. Matt's attempts to understand and support Sandra also continuously backfire tragically as we see a man genuinely trying to understand and reach out to a woman whom most of the world would simply turn away. Ironically, as his attempts grow more extreme, he begins to behave like a stalker and ends up presenting a far more disturbing character than the necrophiliac.

The film is based on a short story by Barbara Gowdy entitled, "We So Seldom Look on Love". The title of the story is, in turn, taken from a line of Frank O'Hara's poem, "Ode on Necrophilia". Also, I have no idea what the producers told Sarah McLachlan when they requested the rights to her song for the closing scene ("We're making a film about necrophilia and we thought of you."); but "Fumbling Towards Ecstasy" is just the perfect song (with a most appropriate title) to act as a coda for what both main characters are trying to accomplish. This is a story about love: how it can be physical, spiritual, addictive and, to the outside observer, indescribable.

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