With allusions to Rohmer's Clair's Knee (the film could have easily been called Judith's Breast) Emmanuel Mouret's Shall We Kiss? is the proverbial quintessentially French romantic comedy. The story, told in flashback by a woman reasoning why she will not kiss the total stranger she has allowed to buy her dinner and subsequently invited up to her hotel room (did I mention this was quintessentially French?), of a pair of best friends who decide to have sex without consequences. Yea, that works!?
Virginie Ledoyen (A Single Girl, 8 Women) who usually comes off as a somewhat blandish version of a young Deneuve and the director himself, Emmanuel Mouret, play the experimental friends with benefits in this morality play while their significant others phase between oblivious bewilderment and overactive participation. Cute and quaint, and garbed and surrounded in and by tones as far reaching as beige and ecru and even eggshell, the protagonists/antagonists of the story meander through the film as if it were a Bresson film played in slow-motion. Not that that is a bad thing in any way. In fact this non-committal style of acting - or non-acting one could say (again with Bresson) - brings the story to more of a potential "bubble bubble toil and trouble", for we never know when these seemingly repressed (or is it just quintessentially French again?) characters will boil over their off-white cauldron.
That "bubble bubble" never really boils over though. Never quite exciting by typical standards - we do not get to see the actual act of friendly defloration, instead getting six characters sitting around talking about sex - Shall We Kiss? still manages to be a jaunty Jungian dissertation on sex and the often overanalyzed butterfly effect. Sort of an intellectual's Joy of Sex. A prototypically Gallic sex farce but without any of the actual sex. With apologies to M. Rohmer, Judith's Breast it is. [05/16/09]