Perfection Defection

The last time I saw Zach Braff in a movie, he was having a quarter life crisis in “Garden State.” Apparently he has not moved on, because in his next movie “The Last Kiss,” he’s still at it. He plays Michael, a 29 year-old architect who wants to ruin his perfect life by cheating on his pregnant girlfriend Jenna (Jacinda Barett). Why? Because the idea of marriage and family scares him. Because soon he’ll turn 30, a number, an age that rings with finality. Because it irks him that life seems so perfect. There’s an itching temptation to mess it up. Because the opportunity to cheat is available in the form of a cute college girl (Rachel Bilson) named Kim. Because he simply can.

“The Last Kiss” seems original because very few of its kind ever come out. But within its particular genre, it’s just an okay movie. To me, the only thing worth seeing here are the performances. I really didn’t think much of Braff’s performance in “Garden State” because Natalie Portman outshone him. But here, he proves more riveting in this good-guy-gone-bad role. There’s something unsettling in the way Braff utilizes his dorky charm, which I find adorably funny in “Scrubs,” to gain an unsavory end. He’s being lovable and sweet, exactly being the kind of person you wouldn’t think who would cheat. The best scenes in the movie are the showdowns between Braff and Jacinda Barett. When the duo quarrels, the moments have the tenacity to sting and ache.

While the movie tries to approach the subject as honestly as it can, I sensed Paul Haggis pulling some screenplay strings behind the scenes. Okay, he did the same thing in “Crash,” but in that movie, the characters and the issues emotionally grip you. In “The Last Kiss,” not so much. But you never know. Maybe Haggis and director Goldwyn had a perfect film in the first place and they felt the need just to mess it up a little. Oh, okay. That was a stupid thought. Maybe I just felt the need to mess up my initially imperfect review. Why? Because I simply can.

Grade: B

Zach Braff, Jacinda Barrett, Rachel Bilson, Eric Christian Olsen, Casey Affleck, Blythe Danner, and Tom Wilkinson
Based on the film “L’Ultimo Bacio” by
Gabriele Muccino
Screenplay by
Paul Haggis
Directed by
Tony Goldwyn
Rated R for sexuality, nudity and language