Kiss or Kill

Kiss or Kill (Bill Bennett, 1997) wr. Bill Bennett, prod. Bill Bennett, Jennifer Bennett, dp Malcolm McCulloch; Matt Day (Al), Frances O'Connor (Nikki), Chris Haywood (Hummer), Barry Otto (Adler Jones), Andrew S. Gilbert (Crean), Barry Langrishe (Zipper Doyle), Max Cullen (Stan), Syd Brisbane

As I said of Idiot Box: a sordid little tale, but a beautifully crafted film. If it's not in my top ten, it'll have to be in the top twelve: I don't believe Bill Bennett will ever make a better film, tho David Caesar might.

Kiss or Kill is a rare revisionist road movie. It breaks with the genre in three key ways. 1.) Although Nikki and Al, the young lovers, are indeed criminal, they spend most of the movie suspecting each other of their crimes. 2.) The rebels and nonconformists they meet on the road are all middle age or old. 3.) The cops are wry practical jokesters--the coolest characters in the movie. I've seen countless road movies, but this one felt different, as if it had an unbalanced flywheel.
The movie takes place in Australia, which in the American imagination is becoming a place like Texas, inhabited by freewheeling eccentrics with too much space on their hands. Roger Ebert.

The story itself is clear without being simplistic, driven quite evidently by the characters - all of whom are rounded, full bodied and complex, not the least Nikki and Al. There is also a marvellous sense of humour that runs through the film, right to the surprising and wonderful (and meaningful) coda, which is a real delight. The supporting cast is equally brilliant, each with full blown characters, nuances, contradictions and touches of humour. While the film is certainly commercially viable, it does not look out of place in any festival, either. Andrew L. Urban, Urban Cinefile.


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