Over the past 2 days, I’ve watched the Swedish film Kyss mig THREE TIMES. I’m on my fourth as I type this. It came out last year, but I was a little slow to seek it out due to its very “meh” trailer. Well, the trailer lied, and I think it’s a fantastic and unprecedented film. So much so that Kyss mig is knocking Kissing Jessica Stein — yes, a movie barely considered gay for its ending — off its long-time perch as my favorite lesbian movie.
I can do no better than Wikipedia in writing a concise plot set-up, so here it is: “[Kyss mig] tells the story of Mia (left), an up-and-coming architect about to marry Tim, her business partner. At the engagement party for her also newly-engaged Father, Lasse, she meets Frida (right), daughter of Lasse’s fiancee. Mia and Frida exchange many glances, portending mutual attraction.” (emphasis added)
Oh, the exchange of glances! I swooned for every minute of this film. The subtle gestures exchanged between these two characters were incredibly acted. My stomach did flips when, while lighting Frida’s cigarette, Mia tucked a loose strand of hair behind Frida’s ear. I thought I might die when Mia rested her head on Frida’s back while riding on the back of her bicycle. And I did a happy dance when Frida grabbed at the baggy sleeves of Mia’s adorable Scandinavian sweater. I could go on.
Then they kissed and my head exploded a little bit.
It’s hard to explain how it feels to see a same-sex kiss on-screen to straight people. Ugh, and when it’s done well! Men and women have been kissing on television and movie screens for a century, practically, whereas every same-sex kiss feels like a landmark — a bit heart-stopping. And these scenes were truly heart-stopping. The action doesn’t even stop there — These characters actually have sex! Not the fade to black kind. Sex that is rendered tastefully, dramatically, and romantically. It was apparently HIGHLY choreographed by the producers, but it’s not evident on the screen — another testament to the fantastic performances by these Swedish actresses (Ruth Vera Fernandez and Liv Mjones).
Beyond the kissing and sex, Kyss mig is foremost a love story. There are some elements of coming out, too. And I absolutely loved it, if you couldn’t tell already. In addition to painstakingly matching up subtitles to the video I downloaded, I ordered Kyss mig from Amazon immediately after watching it the first time, right before watching it a second time.
By now, I’ve raved about this movie to several friends. But, I did so with some trepidation, as I don’t know the answer to this question: Can straight people see a gay film and react to it in the same way as a gay person? Certainly, I’ve been moved by many movie romances involving straight love (99.9% of all movies I’ve seen). But this shook my world, and I’m not totally confident it will do the same — at least with equal magnitude — for someone who’s not, in some way, seeing bits of their own experiences on the screen.
It wasn’t hard for me to empathize with either character, first as Mia, entertaining curiosity, then denying, anticipating and succumbing to her feelings. It’s a sequence of events that made me remember my first kiss with a girl during my freshman year of college. We were lying on my dorm room bed. I remember covering my face with my hands. Who knew you could want something so badly… to both happen and NOT happen all at once? I could also relate to Frida, exercising the patience to let Mia figure herself out. Being someone else’s first kiss.
The characters themselves were appealing, too. Adult women in their early 30s, who don’t necessarily “look” gay. Pretty middle of the road styling for both Mia and Frida — think J. Crew meets Eddie Bauer. Both incredibly beautiful actresses. And oh my god, the Coach Taylor-esque bags under Ruth Vera Fernandez’s eyes. (She plays Mia).
Thank you, Sweden, and thank you to the writers and producers for making this film. I truly loved it, enough so to break blog silence and my self-imposed gag order on gay. Go see Kyss mig (also titled Kiss Me and With Every Heartbeat in the U.S.).