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A woman flies to France to confront her straying fiancé, but gets into trouble when the charming crook seated next to her uses her for smuggling.
For more about French Kiss and the French Kiss Blu-ray release, see French Kiss Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on January 11, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Meg Ryan, Kevin Kline, Timothy Hutton, Jean Reno, François Cluzet
Director: Lawrence Kasdan
» See full cast & crew
French Kiss Blu-ray Review
Like a lot of kisses, this one's enjoyable but a little sloppy.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, January 11, 2013
Why oh why do some actresses feel they need to chop their faces to bits with plastic surgery? Now this isn't a sexist commentary, for it's only too obvious that Hollywood actors are at least as guilty of this folly (as one look at Mickey Rourke eminently proves). But for some reason women seem more amenable to going under the knife, sometimes repeatedly, until they look like weird alien doppelgangers of their former selves. It's especially odd when there's nothing wrong with their original faces to begin with. It's one thing to have a little eye lift or neck tuck as the effects of gravity's solemn pull suck a face ever downward through the decades, but how do you account for still relatively youthful actresses who reshape their faces to meet some ideal that evidently only they are privy to? This is neither here nor there in terms of relating to any given performer or their body (no pun intended) of work, but it's something that occurs perhaps unconsciously to this viewer when he sees "former" versions of actresses on display. On television, I still start almost involuntarily when I see Courteney Cox in Cougar Town these days. What has she done to herself? Is it "only" almost ridiculously plumped lips, or is her nose completely different? A few years ago I reviewed the 2008 remake of the iconic Claire Booth Luce play The Women for another site, and I marveled then at the seemingly inexplicable "change" that star Meg Ryan had put herself through, in my opinion not to the actresses' betterment. Is it mere coincidence that Ryan has more or less disappeared from the acting scene? Is perhaps even she aware of how radically her surgery has altered her appearance? Well, for those jonesin' for the "old, unimproved" cute as a button look of Meg Ryan, you could do worse than French Kiss, a not quite light enough soufflé that nonetheless shows why so many once fell in love with Ryan, deeming her a new version of "America's Sweetheart".
There's no denying that a lot of French Kiss is derivative. Meg Ryan plays pretty much the same character she always played in these rom-coms, in this case a perky but slightly anal woman named Kate (a character name she would repeat several years later in another rom-com, Kate & Leopold). Kevin Kline plays a French roué named Luc, a petty thief who has dreams of starting a vineyard and who comes across as a more intelligent French accented version of his character in A Fish Called Wanda. And that old standby of so many rom-coms, two disparate characters who are obviously meant for each other but who can't stand each other at first, is on full display. Against these considerable, odds, however, quite a bit of French Kiss works remarkably well.
Kate has her life planned down to every jot and tittle. Her fiancé, doctor Charlie (Timothy Hutton), keeps begging her to live a little and come with him to Paris, but Kate's debilitating fear of flying keeps her from ever seriously considering it. Kate is closer to Charlie's family than Charlie himself is, and she also has selected the picket fenced home that she wants to settle down with Charlie in, surprising Charlie with the announcement that she's squirreled away over forty thousand dollars to help pay for it. All of these plans come tumbling down like a veritable house of cards when Charlie goes to Paris and quickly falls in love with a French woman he describes as a "god-dess" (emphasis on the second syllable), ditching Kate without so much as a second thought. That spurs Kate to at least momentarily get beyond her fear, and we next find her fidgeting in an airplane seat.
Through the vagaries of coincidence, or at least whatever passes for it in the typical territory of the rom-com, Kate ends up seated next to Luc (Kevin Kline) and it is of course hate at first sight. Kate doesn't like Luc for being French, unkempt and a little pushy, and Luc finds Kate uptight and afraid to have fun. Over the course of the long flight from Canada to Paris the two do exchange increasingly tolerant conversation, helped along by Luc plying Kate with alcohol he's pilfered from the plane's galley. We're also privy to seeing Luc unwrap some items he's evidently attempting to smuggle into France, items he ends up placing in Kate's purse while she sleeps after having had too much to drink.
The rest of French Kiss attempts to dally in some farce like material, as Kate's purse gets stolen by another no- goodnik whom Luc knows. Luc is able to reclaim a prized grapevine, but an even more prized diamond necklace can't be located and so Luc sets out to tail Kate in the hopes that the jewels are still stashed away in her purse. Kate, meanwhile, now without any money or her passport, and through a series of plot devices unable to return to either Canada or America, sets her sights on bringing Charlie to his senses. In the meantime a police inspector (Jean Reno) is hot on the trail of Luc, knowing that he is involved in the original theft of the necklace.
Perhaps surprisingly, French Kiss never really amps up to the hysterical level of A Fish Called Wanda, even though several of the "slamming door" set ups are there in place. Perhaps even more surprisingly, the film manages to be rather engaging even if the comedy is often quite low key, resulting in smiles and titters rather than out and out guffaws. The film coasts quite elegantly on the combined charisma of Kline and Ryan, and it is helped immeasurably by director Lawrence Kasdan's very evocative use of several incredibly gorgeous French locations.
Still, there's a certain aspect of wistful nostalgia watching this film and wondering how Meg Ryan could have hobbled her own career by deciding to alter what were at the very least extremely cute and some would argue absolutely gorgeous good looks. It may admittedly have absolutely nothing to do with this film and its slight but undeniable pleasures, but it's still a cautionary tale for today's fledgling stars.
French Kiss Blu-ray, Video Quality
French Kiss is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of 20th Century Fox with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.35:1. This is an uncommonly beautiful film which utilizes its French setting to marvelous effect. Director Lawrence Kasdan and legendary cinematographer Owen Roizman (The Exorcist, Network, The French Connection) cast the film in an amber, sun dappled ambience that adds immeasurably to creating a slightly exotic, romantic environment. This may lead some to believe that some shots looks overly soft, but it's really not the case. Intentionally gauzy at times, yes, but there's still abundant fine detail even in many midrange shots. Colors are very nicely saturated, accurate and often quite robust. The image is very nicely clear and sharp, with well modulated contrast. There doesn't appear to have been any overly aggressive digital sharpening or noise reduction applied to this release. There are a couple of very minor stability issues, including some slight motion judder on some quick pans.
French Kiss Blu-ray, Audio Quality
French Kiss features a nice sounding lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that isn't overly immersive and tends to exploit the front soundstage more consistently than the side or rear channels, but which is still very enjoyable on its own terms. Dialogue is very cleanly presented, and the film's ebullient James Newton Howard score, which does indeed populate the surrounds, sounds great. That's the fantastic virtuoso Toots Thielemans on the harmonica solos sprinkled throughout the film. Fidelity is excellent, though dynamic range is quite narrow.
French Kiss Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
French Kiss Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Maybe Meg Ryan needed a change. She's on record as stating she ultimately hated being cast in one romantic comedy after another, but the fact is, she was ideally suited to the genre. She's spunky, she's accessible and she's pretty in a non threatening way. Or at least she was. French Kiss finds Ryan 1.0 in fine form, working well with Kevin Kline, who hams it up enjoyably. The film is predictable but enjoyable and it's certainly one of the more gloriously beautiful rom- coms, courtesy of its lush French settings. This Blu-ray looks and sounds great, and even without any supplements to speak of, it comes Recommended.
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