We had decided to avoid the V-day hoopla anyway, even before the self-appointed guardians of Indian culture, the Sri Ram Sena made their threat to disrupt it (resulting in a Pink Chaddi campaign, Pub Bharo, etc but I digress).

At yesterday’s Portuguese class, I was told that there’d be a film being screened at the Instituto Camoes, called Kiss Me. We decided to give it a dekho.

The film is set in 1950s Portugal, in a small town called Tavira. A young woman Laura (Marisa Cruz) is on the run from an abusive husband, leaving her baby son behind.

She seeks refuge with her libertine aunt, and her life begins to change gradually, from a provincial town girl, to a savvy socialite. The scenes where she first “encounters” Marilyn Monroe, and where she learns to smoke are well-crafted by the director, Antonio Cunha Telles.

There is a narrative (in fact the film starts with it), told by the son. The story begins with the pregnant Laura, at her wedding, and the narrative reappears sporadically, as she continues to try to keep in touch with her son from afar, through her brother Jacinto.  

The fact that Portugal was in the thrall of the fascist dictator Antonio Salazar is touched upon, but not elaborated very much. Perhaps the director didn’t want to deviate too much from the key story. However I felt that it would have added a sense of realism to the film, a sense of what it was like to live in those terrifying times.

Three men play key roles in Laura’s life: the middle-aged tailor who gives her a job, and seems to be somewhat in love with her, the underworld character who also seems to be catnip to the ladies, successfully dating both Laura and the aunt, and the intellectual, nerdy communist professor, who predictably also falls under Laura’s spell.

What follows is a mixturada of psychology, a series of relationships going awry, sometimes simultaneously, sometimes serially.

It becomes frustrating to follow Laura’s love life, and the film ends with a lot of unanswered questions. This is often a good thing, but in this case, you get a sense that the scriptwriter probably tired of the script and left it unfinished.

The cinematography is very good, and you get a good feel of small-town Portugal at that time. There are quite a few sex scenes (shh, don’t tell Mutalia or whatever his name is), but they are tastefully done, never tawdry.

The sound track by Jose Calvario is adequate, but not memorable.

Rating: 7/10

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