Shall We Kiss?
No one will mistake it for the work of Eric Rohmer, but Shall We Kiss? is a surprisingly enjoyable French romcom that manages to offset its initial cutesiness with a cynical twist. Two strangers (Gayet and Cohen) in Nantes contemplate a one-night stand, but before she’ll let him kiss her—a meaningless kiss, he promises—she wants to tell him the story of two friends who also thought they could have sex with no strings attached.
And no, we’re not in for When Harry Met Sally redux. Best pals Judith (Ledoyen, who could probably make even a Peugeot commercial watchable) and Nicolas (Mouret) have intellectualized romance to an idiotic degree. He’s single and lonely, and he wants to get laid, stat. Poor baby, Judith says, shortly before making the same mistake that once stymied Jerry and Elaine on Seinfeld. But what’s this—love? Yes, no, maybe? Pity about Judith’s boyfriend…
The bracing suggestion in Shall We Kiss? is that true happiness often only comes at the expense of someone else’s happiness. If the film sometimes seems overdetermined to prove that point (and the smug Mouret, sort of a cross between Jean-Pierre Léaud and Jason Schwartzman, can be a tiresome protagonist), the plot folds in on itself in highly entertaining ways. It’s not quite a broken comedy, but it is one that bends.