On the surface this movie looks like your typical lover’s triangle. However, the story is much more complicated than that. There are many twists and turns throughout, until finally at the end everything is revealed. This is a difficult movie to talk about without giving anything away, but I will try my best.
Barnaby (James D’Arcy) proposes to Carmen (Natalia Verbeke). Then at her hen night (bachelorette party for us Americans) she kisses a handsome stranger. The premise for the kiss is that it is supposedly a French custom for the “bride to be” to have a last kiss before she is no longer a free woman. It ends up being quite a passionate kiss and causes her to be confused and flustered. Thus setting up our love triangle.
We find out that the handsome stranger is Kit (Gael Garcia Bernal). The day after the hen night he shows up at Carmen’s workplace to ask her out. After much pleading and convincing she finally agrees. There is a definite spark between the two of them. Plus they come from similar backgrounds, which automatically gives them something in common (she is from Madrid, he is from Brazil). When she enters Kit’s apartment for the first time she says it reminds her of home.
Barnaby is rich and doesn’t need to work for a living. He has a nice home and expensive things. You get the impression that money is important to him. He makes several comments about how he paid a lot for something, as if that should make it important. It seems like he loves Carmen but is also insecure about their relationship.
Even though Barnaby is rich, Carmen still wants to work. She needs to feel some independence. At times she can be very vulnerable, but is also very hot tempered. Something from her past is haunting her. You can see why both men are interested in her, she is very sexy and has a fun personality (if a bit unpredictable). Carmen likes the security she has with Barnaby and the fact that he is good to her. With Kit she finds passion, playfulness and a kindred spirit. She is in a predicament.
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. The characters were interesting and the actors were great. Little things would pop up that would clue you in that more is happening here than you think, but would not give enough away for you to figure it out. It’s even good for repeated viewing (even after you know all the twists). In fact, after I knew the outcome I found I could enjoy all the little details that I may have missed or not understood the first time through.
Some quotes I liked:
Kit – “In fact I do unemployment really well.”
Kit – “How many jobs have you been fired from.”
Carmen – “Exactly? Thirty-five in six months.”
Carmen – “A kiss is the dot the i on the word love.”
Kit – “Yeah, but there’s no i in love.”
Carmen – “Well, then I guess it doesn’t work in English does it.”
Carmen – “Why do you have to film everything?”
Kit – “Cause moments don’t last.”
Carmen – “They’re not meant to.”
Registrar – “Double glazing, it’s a b*tch.”
Ford – “Life has no rehearsals.”
Following is additional information about the movie that contains spoilers. If you don’t want to be spoiled don’t read any further.
I didn’t want to talk about James D’Arcy above the spoiler line because it would give too much away. Let me just say I was very impressed with his acting. For the first half of the movie I really felt for Barnaby. He seemed totally in love with Carmen and was absolutely crushed when he thought he might be losing her. Then to see his portrayal of the character after what he has been doing is revealed. Wow, so unfeeling and dark. Very impressive the way he could just flip back and forth.
When he says to Kit “it’s kind of an emotional snuff movie” it really sums up what type of a person Barnaby is. I found that very disturbing.
I like the homage to “The Graduate” in the wedding scene. It fit the story perfectly and it was so sad to see Kit banging on the window after he is too late.
Loved the scene when Carmen showed up at Kit’s apartment and said “I got married” then proceeds to kiss him. Which of course leads to them having sex. It’s a very hot scene, where they both just ooze fiery passion.
Interesting fact, a lot of footage in the movie came from the cameras that the actors were using. It was inter-cut with the footage from the regular movie cameras.