"An intriguing and provocative piece and one that really makes you think..."
Named after a Leonard Cohen song, Dana Lustig's A Thousand Kisses Deep is a feature that certainly remains loyal to its original inspiration, as a film that is rich in the intelligent melancholy that Cohen is so renowned for.
Set in London, Jodie Whittaker plays Mia - a timorous and solitary woman, attempting to recover from her destructive relationship with the vindictive, womanising trumpet player Ludwig (Dougray Scott). One afternoon on her way home Mia witnesses an elderly lady falling to her death from a balcony a couple of floors above her flat. As she enters the woman's property to learn more about the incident, she finds countless possessions of hers and of Ludwig's.
Curious and worried, Mia is taken on a fantastical route into her past by the apartment block's forbidding caretaker Max (David Warner), who takes Mia on a journey into her own life as she is able to witness and interfere with her own childhood with her alcoholic mother Doris (Emilia Fox) through to her suffering at the hands of the violent Ludwig, as she attempts to make sense of the turbulent relationship, whilst her ability to influence her own past and speak to her former self gives Mia an incentive to change her very own future - one she hopes Ludwig is not a part of. Yet no matter how far back she goes, it seems she is never able to truly shake off the malicious musician...
Lustig has presented a film full of intrigue, in what proves to be a quite bold piece of film making. The very idea of being able to go back to various points in your life is fascinating enough, yet Lustig has provided a twist on the classic idea - as unlike stories such as A Christmas Carol or It's a Wonderful Life, Mia is able to interfere with her very own history, with the ability to change the course of her own future. One can't help but admire Lustig for attempting such a story with such a fascinating concept - yet it's fair to say that the production mostly survives due to just this premise.
Strange and surreal A Thousand Kisses Deep is somewhat difficult to comprehend, as Lustig combines fantasy and realism to make for a picture that proves to be quite challenging to study and fully understand. The beginning is particularly perplexing as it feels almost as though you've stumbled into a movie that is half way through. Of course we must surrender our disbelief in order to fully enjoy this picture, as there are a fair amount of unanswered questions, with Lustig opening various doors, yet unfortunately for us, leaving them left wide open, never to be closed. I appreciate that the film is going down an almost supernatural route, surrealist to say the least - but the picture still needs some kind of an explanation to at least attempt to make things seem believable or understandable, as it is never truly made clear as to how Mia is able to embark on her unusual journey.
On the other hand, there are definite positives to be found within the performances from the leading pair Whittaker and Scott, particularly the latter. Scott depicts Ludwig with a haunting degree of intimidation, whilst Whittaker displays Mia's vulnerability with sincere conviction, making for quite affecting scenes between the pair. Scott also manages to grasp hold of Ludwig's charm - a necessity in the role as we have to believe that despite his aggressive nature, he is desirable enough for Mia to keep returning to him. Scott has a swagger about him which makes it seem entirely plausible that he could win the heart of so many women, before becoming a thorn in their side from there on.
A Thousand Kisses Deep is a unique piece of film making, and one which comes with a quite melancholic feel, enhanced by the use of soft jazz implemented within the film. It's an intriguing and provocative piece and one that really makes you think, as you certainly need a few days to contemplate after watching it, although in fairness, much of this is an attempt to simply try and figure the whole thing out.