One of the fascinating aspects of Good Kisser, director Wendy Jo Carlton’s latest film, is how much mileage it gets out its lean premise. Clocking in at a brisk 74 minutes, the film revolves around a couple whose night of innocent fun turns out to be far more complicated than either person anticipated.
Dating for close to two-years, Jenna (Kari Alison Hodge) is not sure if she can go through with the threesome that her girlfriend Kate (Rachel Paulson) has proposed. Initially agreeing that the couple would go on a date with Mia (Julia Eringer), an open-minded stranger that Kate met, Jenna begins to wonder if she is in over her head. As the three women converse over wine and tequila shots, sparks begin to fly in unexpected ways.
As inhibitions begin to fade away, and emotions can no longer be hidden, Jenna and Kate’s relationship will be put to the test.
Drawing out the will they or won’t they tension, Carlton’s film is both flirtatious and seductive. The heat that the characters often reference, which carries various meanings in a film like this, is palpable for the viewer. Part of this is achieved by the way Carlton constructs her characters. She provides just enough information about each person to make them simultaneously intriguing and mysterious. It quickly becomes apparent that the real elephant in the room of Good Kisser is not the threesome, but rather the secrets that can no longer stay hidden.
Trusting in her cast to convey many of the unspoken things amongst the characters, Carlton’s film thrives thanks to the strong performances of Hodge, Paulson and Eringer. While each actress brings nuance to their characters, Hodge has the difficult task of navigating a plethora of emotions in a short span of time. All of which she tackles masterfully.
A complex, and at times steamy, portrait of a relationship on the cusp of change, Good Kisser is worth puckering up to.
Saturday, May 25, 7:15 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox