Courtesy Photo
Co-written & directed by Lynn Stopkewich

Starring Molly Parker, Peter Outerbridge & Jay Brazeau.

This film is on the Best of 1997 list.


Imagery and lighting play a role in the storytelling here, so if you're watching this on anything smaller than, say, a 36" screen, turn off the lights, put down the ironing and pay attention. This is a movie to get absorbed in.


Opened: April 18, 1997 | Rated: R

Nineteen-ninety-seven is quickly becoming the year of the creeps-are-people-too movie. You've got your car crash fetishists are people too ("Crash"), your porno kings are people too ("...Larry Flynt"), assassins ("Grosse Pointe Blank"), mob guys ("Donnie Brasco"), and now your necrophiliacs are people too.

Canadian actress Molly Parker manages to evoke a remarkable empathy for Sandra, an embalming student who takes a rather excessive interest in her clients in "Kissed."

A placid but mesmerizing freshman effort from Vancouver film professor Lynn Stopkewich, "Kissed" manages to log Sandra's growing fascination with the dead -- from a bird in her childhood back yard through to her near-nightly trysts with some very passive partners -- without ever really becoming macabre.

Parker brings such compelling life to Sandra's unusual desires that, seen through her eyes, her charges never seem quite lifeless. The dead never budge, but you never stop looking for them to.

Stopkewich, who also co-wrote the script, uses bright, directional lighting and unusual close-ups to capture the mysterious spirit Sandra finds in her lifeless companions.

In contrast, the she employs cavernous darkness in some of Sandra's scenes with the living.

Much of the story revolves around Sandra's relationship with moody Matt (Peter Outerbridge), a still-breathing medical student who acts as her only foothold in normalcy. But Matt's crush becomes an obsession with Sandra's indifference and drives him to take a prevailing interest in her less animated lovers. Before long he's far more unstable than she is.

"Kissed" is incredibly well crafted. Stopkewich's illustrative details mindfully trifle with the audience, pushing us to see things from Sandra's point of view.

Example: Peter lives in a muggy basement apartment with noisy neighbors. The dank air and muffled domestic turbulence subltely grate on the atmosphere until one night Sandra leaves to spend the night at the morgue. She's become accustom the cool hush there, and the audience has been conditioned to feel it with her.

How you react to the subject matter should probably determine your yea or nay on this movie, but unless you're completely appalled at the concept, "Kissed" will certainly fascinate. It is the kind of film that tends to spawn boundless coffee-shop discussion, and in my book that's the best kind of movie there is.

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