Sandra's boyfriend Matt is jealous of Sandra's deceased lovers. Not former lovers who are currently deceased. Current lovers who are also currently deceased.
You see, Sandra's romantic tastes veer in an unusual direction, specifically, toward the funeral home where she works and, um, dates.
Yes, it's true. "Kissed," directed, co-written and co-produced by Lynne Stopkewich, is that rarest of art forms, a necrophilia movie.
The genre may not have universal appeal, but "Kissed" should not be dismissed. It is a serious meditation on love and acceptance, and a measure of its power is that Stopkewich makes the movie's intrinsically macabre subject seem lyrical.
Molly Parker is mesmerizing as Sandra, a woman who may not comprehend her desires but accepts them as integral to who she is. Death, she explains, has always fascinated her, always exerted a spiritual, sensual hold on her. As a teen-ager (played by Natasha Morley), she creates ritualized burial ceremonies for dead animals, which include rubbing them over her body. As a young adult, her yearnings lead her to the one place where she can indulge them, a funeral home. She not only gets a job, she gets a social life.
First-time director Stopkewich demonstrates the most essential ingredient if "Kissed" is to work -- restraint. The humor is sly and quiet. Heavy-handedness would have broken the film's hypnotic spell. And the sex scenes are not just erotic, they are filmed with gentleness, sweetness even. Sandra's proclivities, which fill her with such joy, are made to seem natural, at least for her. The irony is that Sandra, despite her unconventional ideas of romance, is a rarity in films, a female character willing to aggressively pursue sexual gratification.
That she can't achieve sexual gratification with a living person is made clear in her relationship with Matt (Peter Outerbridge), a young medical student who falls in love with her. When she's with him, Parker's face registers none of the pleasure evident when she is with her corpses. It is only with them that she can come alive, that she can, in her words, "cross over."
To his heartache, Matt recognizes that he cannot change Sandra, and he loves her enough not to try. He never attempts to draw her away from the bodies, understanding that they are essential to her. Only Matt can change, and he does. His example of acceptance is the true undertaking of "Kissed," an unconventional love story.
Starring Molly Parker and Peter Outerbridge
Directed by Lynne Stopkewich
Released by Goldwyn Entertainment Group
Unrated. Nudity and sexual scenes
Sun score: ***
Pub Date: 5/09/97