out of Five
Running time: 84
A sci-fi thriller crossed with a dark romance, A Thousand Kisses Deep certainly has ambitions, but the film struggles to lives up to the Leonard Cohen poem it’s named after.
What’s it all about?
Directed by Dana Lustig (best known for producing Rian Johnson’s Brick), this London-set thriller stars Jodie Whitaker as the 30-something Mia who on her way home from work one day witnesses an elderly woman jump from the top floor of her apartment block. Scattered around her body are fragments of a photo of Mia and an old boyfriend of hers – the jazz musician Ludwig.
Upon discovering more of her possessions in the woman’s apartment, a curious Mia is taken back into her past by the building’s ominous caretaker (David Warner), where she observes her younger self trapped in a destructive relationship with Ludwig (Douglas Stark) and so embarks upon a mission to change her future.
Time travel in film is normally accompanied by action sequences and hi-tech special effects; in contrast, at the heart of director Dana Lustig’s Freudian mystery is a creaky Victorian lift in a West London apartment building and a rotten romance. Deposited on the different ‘floors’ of her life, Mia must travel right back to her unhappy childhood to try to remove her dangerous ex-lover from her future.
The film’s rather lovely title is taken from a Leonard Cohen poem which bookends the drama but in her tale of soured relationships and trapped souls Lustig never manages to recreate the passionate depths of feeling that Cohen plumbed – instead it’s left to the film’s jazz score to provide a sense of melancholy and woe. Certainly, the film boasts an impressive cast for a small-budget production – David Warner especially fits the part as the ominous, basement-dwelling time-traveller – but it’s a shame that Lustig doesn’t make the most of their talents.
After the first unsuspecting lift trip back in time, there are few plot twists that offer any surprises. The characterisation is minimal and stereotypes abound, from Mia’s uncaring mother (played by Emilia Fox) to the dastardly Ludwig.
The script is never more than perfunctory and plausibility certainly isn’t it’s main concern – Mia’s guardian-angel-cum-agony-aunt elder self is far too easily accepted by family and acquaintances in her younger years.
Unfortunately A Thousand Kisses Deep is a somewhat tepid drama which Lustig offers, rather than the crazy Kaufman-esque trip into a character’s interiority that you might hope for from a film with a time-bending lift and a unhappy soul at its core.
A Thousand Kisses Deep (15)