In Search of a Midnight Kiss
Finding love in the time of craigslist is the goal of disillusioned twentysomethings In Search of a Midnight Kiss and of writer/director Alex Holdridge (Sexless), who displays a penchant for old-fashioned romance that’s at odds with anonymous internet hook-ups. In his third film, he takes a sexual situation and uses it to restore his characters’ faith in themselves and what they might accomplish.
Wilson (Scoot McNairy) studiously avoids celebrating New Year’s Eve, rejecting the holiday’s promise to reward revelers with a clean slate. But a particularly rough year, including the demise of a long-term relationship and a move from Austin to Los Angeles to work on a screenplay shelved by the studio, has changed his mind. He projects cynicism, but as Wilson reveals in voiceover (as a montage of public displays of affection unspools), he has faith in the midnight kiss as a harbinger of future happiness.
His roommate Jacob (Brian Matthew McGuire) suggests posting a seeking companionship ad to get Wilson out of his funk. Granted, this is after Jacob walked in on Wilson masturbating to a Photoshopped image of his girlfriend Min (Katy Luong), who takes the awkward situation in stride. (Despite an almost courtly take on relationships, Holdridge revels in explicit sexual discussions.) In what used to be known as a lonelyhearts ad, Wilson writes “Misanthrope seeks Misanthrope” and to his surprise, Vivian (Sara Simmonds) answers. Jittery and demanding, delighting in her ability to put the defensive Wilson on edge, Vivian is not the simple solution to his anxious yearnings. An unemployed actress with a brittle exterior, she has her own complex agenda, and equally high expectations.
Holdridge creates the kind of lifetime in a day experience of Before Sunrise, and captivating black-and-white cinematography recasts the film noir capital in a newly romantic light. In Search of a Midnight Kiss is the kind of romantic comedy a young Woody Allen might’ve made if he could acknowledge Los Angeles as a real city. The jaded Wilson and Vivian may understand how Hollywood romanticism works, but they still believe the right kiss can mean the world.
Review by Serena Donadoni
Released on August 1, 2008 by IFC Films
First published in the Metro Times.