"Kiss Me" is a love story. But it’s not just a story of romantic love. It’s also the story of familial love, the kind that, unfortunately, too many people don’t get to enjoy because of the continued lack of acceptance of LGBTQ relationships.
Visually, "Kiss Me" is gorgeous, the shots, the actors, the countryside. But what is even more stunning in this film is its candor. Love stories are rarely easy in real life. But they almost always seem to be in film. Not so here.
Girl meets boy. They fall in love. Girl thinks that means she should marry boy. Girl meets girl. Girls fall in love. Girl’s father can’t accept girl is gay. Girl goes back to fiancé. Girl cannot live without other girl. Father cannot live without his daughter in his life. Girl and girl begin their life together with father’s happy acceptance.
Something like that anyway.
The central character, Mia (Ruth Vega Fernandez), is engaged to a man named Tim (Joakin Natterqvist) and goes to visit her father Lasse (Krister Henriksson) and announce their engagement. While there, she meets Frida (Liv Mjones) the daughter of Elisabeth (Lena Endre) (Mia’s father’s girlfriend). You can feel the energy between the two straightaway and you can imagine immediately what is to follow.
At first, Mia is rather antagonistic towards Frida. A sure sign that she’s intrigued and wishes she weren’t, of course. Mia longs to spend time with her father while she is in town. But he is clearly preoccupied with his work. So when he and Mia are supposed to go to the country house, it ends up just being Mia, Frida, and Elisabeth.
The latter sends her daughter off to find Mia who has wandered away from the house, admonishing her to be nice. I don’t think it’s exactly what Elisabeth had in mind, but it’s not long before the two kiss and you can tell that this isn’t going to go easily.
That night, the girls sleep together. It’s a gorgeous scene thanks to the beauty and talent of the actresses as well as the subtle filming. As one might predict, things get terribly messy the next morning. Mia flees back home with her boyfriend and Frida - surprise - goes home to her girlfriend, who the audience did not know of until that moment.
It’s messy. Mia doesn’t know what to do. Though it’s clear what she wants to do. It’s what makes "Kiss Me" such a pleasure to watch, depth of character and story. If this were easy, it wouldn’t feel true. But the story of Mia and Frida is the story of how complicated love can be - gay, straight, or otherwise.
I would watch this film just because it was so pretty. But I would share this film because it is such a relief to see a movie handle a lesbian couple as a couple, lesbian or otherwise.
Barring Mia’s father’s initial reaction to Mia being a lesbian, the preponderance of the film is about navigating love when you are just one of the many people involved. Mia returns to her boyfriend Tim because it feels like the "right" thing to do. But clearly, the only person it would be "right" for is him.
When she leaves him, his reaction is violent. And I can’t say I was surprised. We invest in the people we love. We invest ourselves and our lives and our futures. When those people suddenly go away, it’s not hard to see the devastation the loss would cause.
It’s easy to see why Mia would first think to stay. It has to be easier than leaving, she figures. But living not authentically proves to be far more painful and ultimately impossible to bear.
The only thing that left me a little puzzled is that by the end of the film, Frida still has not told Mia that she was living with her girlfriend when they met. It seems an important thing to note; especially considering Frida makes a bold statement at the beginning of the film about never cheating and knowing what it feels like to be cheated on.
That aside, I believe the film’s most central theme is this - life is complicated and most people would prefer that it not be. Mia certainly doesn’t want it to be. She says time and again that she wants to run away with Frida.
Whereas Frida longs to start a real life with Mia. I chalk that up to the fact that Frida is already out and Mia is not and thus, in some ways, has a tougher road ahead. Either way life or love is complicated. But better to have loved and lost, right?
There’s a bit of a back and forth with Mia leaving Tim to be with Frida and then coming late to meet Frida, making Frida believe she would never be first in Mia’s life, something that Frida was in no way willing to accept. And so the two separate once again.
But all is not lost.
The film ends with Mia going after Frida who has gone off to Barcelona presumably to get over Mia. They ending are little more than looks shared between the girls. But Frida seems happy to see Mia and one might guess at an equally happy ending. Still, I can’t help but wonder if that was what the filmmaker had in mind.
What I do know is that this film is a relief in the mire of "tulle swathed, misty, Cinderella gone gay" features that too often make their way to the screen. "Kiss Me" is a big, glossy film that could run with the big dogs. It gives me hope that it won’t be long before movies like this aren’t immediately relegated to the "gay films" category and instead move straight, no pun intended) to romance/drama
This article is part of our "18th Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival" series. Want to read more?
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