British film 'A Thousand Kisses Deep', an ‘other worldly’ exploration of one woman’s attempts to rectify her past mistakes in an effort to save her future, sounded intriguing. However, the disjointed script and clumsy execution left me more peeved than piqued.
An awkwardly abstract opening has Mia Selva (Jodie Whittaker) being reluctantly presented with a box of her mother’s possessions which she disposes of but they mysteriously reappear at her home (why this occurs never becomes apparent). This is closely followed by an old woman plummeting to her death from Mia’s block of flats. Mia finds that the old woman has fallen along with a shredded picture of Mia’s former lover and it is this perplexing event that sets the precedent for the subsequent bewildering tangle of scenes.
Investigating the old woman’s room to try and discover why she had a picture of, Ludwig (Dougray Scott), the one that broke her heart, Mia discovers the apartment is a mirror image of her own and contains letters addressed to her and possessions she recognises. Understandably Mia is unnerved as she realises the woman could be her and Max (David Warner), the caretaker takes Mia into her past so that she can try and save herself from the heartache that Ludwig inflicted on her. The scenes between Ludwig and Mia seesaw between emotionally intense exchanges to distressing depictions of his sadistic tendencies.
Mia’s deep, emotional and possibly unhealthy attachment to Ludwig is revealed through her visits to her own past, as well as the anguish that she portrays while watching these events unfold, yet when describing why she is obsessed with Ludwig she refers to him as ‘handsome’ and ‘mature’ – hardly enough grounds to foster such intense love, or willingness to endure his cruel behaviour.
Mia’s journey into her past is facilitated through the magical lift in her block of flats and the ageless and infinitely knowledgeable caretaker, Max. Max’s character is inflicted with the worst lines in the script as he punctuates Mia’s experiences with various idiom-esque statements that create an air of a children’s adventure film. His character is the clichéd wise older man in the role of butler or caretaker that is reminiscent of so many children’s films. Perversely, despite his wisdom and ability to operate the lift to all floors historical, the aged sage never explains how the lift is able to transport Mia back in time. Not even in clichés!
The central theme of the film is that Mia is able to do what so many of us wish we could, to revisit her past and put right the things she regrets in an effort to reshape her future. An interesting twist is that Mia’s experiences don’t follow the usual convention of time travel as she is able to interact with her past self.
Despite the disjointed plot and occasionally hackneyed script, the film is to some extent rescued by a brilliant cast; British actor Dougray Scott is chilling as Ludwig, and Jodie Whittaker is competent in her portrayal of Mia. Emilia Fox and Jonathan Slinger are excellent in their roles as Mia’s parents. Fox explores the complexities of alcoholism and conveys her tense relationship with her daughter with compelling intensity. Slinger is amiable and convincing in his role as Mia’s father and gives one of the most subtle performances of A Thousand Kisses Deep. And then there is Lily the cat whose performance shines through (never mind Golden Collars how about a Cream of Acting award for mesmerising moggies?) as a welcome comfort to Mia, and the audience, during particular intense moments in the film.