Three friends, two tragic love stories, one lesson about consent. Blu (Valentina Romani, pictured above in the centre), Antonio (Leonardo Pazzagli, top left) and Lorenzo (Rimau Ritzberger Grillo, top right) are Italian teenagers who strike an unlikely friendship. They study together, but have strikingly different personalities and lifestyles. Lorenzo is a headstrong and obstinate gay fashionista who recently moved into town to live with his foster family, while Antonio is an introspective basketball player, and Blu is a confident female with a long-distance boyfriend and a very troublesome relationship with her mother.
The strange bond is triggered the fact that the three are marginalised in their school: Lorenzo due to his flagrant homosexuality, Antonio due to his inwardness, while Blu was stigmatised because her colleagues found out that she had an orgy with her boyfriend. As their relationship intensifies, they become increasingly detached from their schools, families and reality. They skip classes in order to embark in unlikely jolly rides and endeavours, to the dismay of some their friends and families. Both Blu and Lorenzo are soon infatuated with Antonio, but they have no idea about the feelings of the tall, handsome and timid sportman.
While marketed as an LGBT film, Blu’s predicament (as a woman) at the end of the movie is just as relevant as Lorenzo’s. The sad fate that both encounter are a direct consequence of a society that has failed to establish a dialogue with its youth on urgent themes such as homosexuality, tolerance and – above all – consent. It’s the inability to negotiate consent in civilised manner that leads Blu and Lorenzo to such a tragic closure. It’s symptomatic of a society that fails to respect women and homosexuals. And you will be stunned into silence at how quickly adolescence can evanesce.
The director Ivan Cotroneo chose to paint a colourful narrative, with plush effects illustrating Lorenzo’s camp imagination. There’s glittler and the pavement changing colours in good Thriller style, representing Lorenzo’s triumphant entrance in school (at least in his mind). There are pop-up subtitles for the mobile phone message exchange, a conspicuous aspect of adolescent life. And there’s plenty of feelgood music: Lady Gaga, New Order, Blondie, Placebo and Emeli Sandé. None of this foretells the harrowing events that unfold in the end of the movie.
The performances are just about strong and convincing enough, and overall One Kiss is a touching and eye-opening movie. The problem is that happy-go-lucky feel prevails for a little too long, and at times it feels that this is a movie about teenagers for teenagers. It’s only at the very end of the movie that it’s possible to grasp the complexity and the profoundness of the story, but by then some older viewers may have lost the connection with the teens.
One Kiss is showing on Sunday, November 6th at the Genesis Cinema in London. It is the third film directed by Cotroneo, who won a Globo d’oro for the best screenplay and the prestigious Biraghi Award to his leading actors at Nastri d’Argento 2016.
The film will be made available on DVD on Amazon on November 21st. You can pre-order it now by clicking here.
Below is the movie trailer: