Posted June 10, 2012 by David Watson in Films
 
 

A Thousand Kisses Deep


How much you like

How much you like A Thousand Kisses Deep may
depend on how much you like jazz.
And
not just any kind of jazz, we’re talking jaaaaaaaazzzzzz;
the moody, warbling, trumpet and sax-heavy jazz that accompanies tastefully lit
and shot soft-core scenes in ‘90s ‘erotic thrillers.’ You know, the kind of cable movie or TV show that’d star a
pre-X-Files David Duchovny or Matt
LeBlanc
before he had Friends
and lots of pneumatic naked ladies with names like Shannon, Amber and
Taryn. In fact, slash the running
time by two thirds and stir in a bit more nudity, humping and sweat and A Thousand Kisses Deep would have made
a pretty ok episode of The Red Shoe
Diaries
.

Coming
home from work after a tough day, 30-something singleton Mia (Jodie Whittaker) witnesses the elderly woman
who lives upstairs (but CLUE! she’s never met), jump to her death from her
apartment window. Scattered around
the body, she finds the torn scraps of a photo of Mia’s former lover, womanising
junkie jazz musician Ludwig (Dougray
Scott
).

Curious
and disconcerted, Mia convinces Max (David
Warner
), the building’s caretaker, to let her look around the dead woman’s
flat which feels oddly familiar.
While looking through the dead woman’s things, she finds letters she
received from Ludwig and personal items that convince her the suicidal old
woman was an older version of herself.
Unstuck in time, Mia must travel into her own troubled past and confront
old ghosts if she’s going to have any chance of changing her fate.

A
time-traveling tale of love, lust, fate, regret and soured romance, A Thousand Kisses Deep feels broadly thematically
similar to, but less satisfying than, last year’s time-bending thriller The Caller. It feels like an
episode of The Twilight Zone written
by a moonlighting headshrinker so it’ll come as little surprise to learn that
one of the writers is indeed a psychoanalyst. Perhaps because of this the revelations and plot-twists that
ensue every time Whittaker’s Mia jumps in the building’s time-travelling
elevator and revisits her past (abusive relationship with Scott, her unhappy
childhood, jazz, jazz and more jazz) are thumpingly obvious. In fact, Mia finds her problems may
even be pre-natal. You almost expect
David Warner’s curmudgeonly old caretaker (channeling the spirit and look of
William Hartnell’s Doctor Who) to
rub his chin thoughtfully and pronounce: “Ah! Your mother was a cold-hearted
bitch who never had time for you and you caught her shagging a jazz trumpeter
in clown paint during your 10th birthday party…how did that make you
feel?” According to A Thousand Kisses Deep it makes you
obsessed with shagging the self-same jazz clown for the next 20 years. That kind of insight is surely worth
£70 an hour of anyone’s money.

And there
lies A Thousand Kisses Deep biggest
flaw; it’s just one big hypothetical, psychoanalytical session, 84 minutes of
navel-gazing, an exercise in mental masturbation. None of the characters really matter and none are really
developed – they exist purely in the mind of Mia. And despite the ever-reliable Whittaker’s best efforts,
Mia’s not exactly a well-developed character. From the first scene as she bins her dead mother’s
possessions, we know she’s had a thorny relationship with mummy. We know the first time she watches
Scott’s Ludwig cajole, seduce and bully her younger self, that she’s got some serious
daddy issues. Nothing that happens
in the film is much of a surprise, Mia’s journey is mapped out from the
start. It’s tough to get invested
in a character who’s such a mechanical plot device. That in turn, makes it hard to care about the underdeveloped
figments of her imagination.
Whittaker and Scott are both good and display an easy chemistry but
they’re let down by the script which lacks subtlety and ties up each plot
thread in a nice tidy bow.

In fact,
for a film so concerned with answering questions, it leaves far too many
unintentional questions hanging.
Like why does nobody recognise the 30-year old Mia? Even when they’re in the same scene,
talking to the same character. No
one ever says: “You know, you’re the spitting image of that girl over
there!” 30-something Mia looks
exactly like the 20-year old Mia but without a fringe. Yet
no one ever comments on it.
Maybe
Mia’s fringe is like Clark Kent’s glasses. Or maybe it’s a metaphor for identity. Or maybe it’s just lazy writing. Who knows? Similarly, no one ever asks Dougray Scott why a guy with a
Fife accent is named Ludwig? Be
honest, if Dougray Scott sleazed up to you in a jazz bar and introduced himself
as Ludwig the first thing out of most people’s mouth would be: “What kinda
name’s Ludwig for a Hibee?” Ok,
maybe not everybody. But it would still
cross your mind. Also, are jazz
musicians really considered that louche and sexy these days? Really?

Borrowing
its title from a song by Canadian laugh-riot Leonard Cohen, A Thousand Kisses Deep is an intriguing
if rather obvious melding of Freud and sci-fi and, in keeping with its
psychoanalytical air, its introspective to the point of self-obsession. Shame, it’s just not as deep as it
thinks it is.


David Watson

 
David Watson is a screenwriter, journalist and 'manny' who, depending on time of day and alcohol intake could be described as a likeable misanthrope or a carnaptious bampot. He loves about 96% of you but there's at least 4% he'd definitely eat in the event of a plane crash. Email: david.watson@filmjuice.com