"I think L.A. is where love comes to die. I haven't met one couple who's moved out here who's actually made it," muses Wilson, the depressed, hunkered down 29-year-old writer and protagonist in Alex Holdridge's charming indie flick In Search of a Midnight Kiss.
Poor Wilson. Nothing's gone right for him since he landed in L.A.; he's just barely survived the worst year of his life and broke up with his girlfriend only three months ago. As the film opens on New Year's Eve day, a lonely and pathetic Wilson is jerking off to the smiling image of his friend and roommate's girlfriend on the computer, her face appearing on top of a photoshopped woman's body. When Jacob, the roommate played by Brian McGuire catches him, he suggests Wilson hit Craigslist to find a more appropriate date for New Year's Eve.
Wilson, having advertised himself as a "misanthrope" receives a call from Vivian a mixed-up aspiring actress chick who's looking for an escape from a broken relationship and later, we learn another secret, (I don't want to divulge it in case you see the movie once it's distributed). "Are you the misanthrope?" she asks. "Are you the misanthropee?" Wilson asks in return.
The pair, played by Scoot McNairy and Sara Simmonds who both turn in beguiling performances, meet and suffer one moronic and twisted misunderstanding after another. They manage to make it up to each other, sort of. And that's part of the film's charm - you never quite know whether they'll truly cut one another a break or not; there are so many potholes on the way to understanding. At one point, after Wilson asks her if she's waxed "down there" in advance of their date, the neurotic Vivian says: "Just get a life, this isn't a get laid for free night, okay?"
The film is a trippy, simultaneously tender and raw story from the director of Dazed and Confused and Sexless about two souls that collide for a day and try to give each other a chance. In Search of a Midnight Kiss masquerades as a romantic comedy about random love, but it's infinitely darker and more ironic. But it's also about empathy and a search for understanding.
Shot in black and white, the film manages to make L.A. a major character and, a stunning character at that. The movie offers a deeply ironic, pathos-filled account of two flawed people trying to make a go of it on a day filled with expectation and dread. After all, who hasn't been there on New Year's eve? In Search of a Midnight Kiss is a charming and funny escapade. Bravo Alex Holdridge.
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