"Film Fest" series opens with a Kiss

The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and Indie Memphis kicks off a joint series "Film Festival Favorites" with In Search of a Midnight Kiss, an indie romantic comedy shot in Los Angeles. The film is nominated for an Independent Spirit Award this year for best feature made for under $500,000, and it won the Grand Jury Award at last year's Florida Film Festival. One of the things it offers a Memphis audience is that it confirms the quality of the local filmmaking scene.

Writer/director Alex Holdridge's film takes place on that most apocalyptic of days to not be in love, New Year's Eve. Unemployed screenwriter Wilson (Scoot McNairy) has been without a girlfriend for six years. Not wanting to watch another ball drop without getting some action, Wilson places a personals ad on Craigslist ("Misanthrope seeks misanthrope"). The first nibble comes from Vivian (Sara Simmonds); when Wilson and Vivian meet at a coffee shop, she keeps him on his heels with her brash behavior but sticks around out of longing for the cosmic promise of the new year.

Vivian tells Wilson he has until 6 p.m. to impress her before she moves on to someone else. The pair walk around downtown L.A. taking in the scenery as they parry and thrust about the eternal issues between men and women, growing more attracted to each other in the meantime. In this lovely interlude, the film becomes a kind of travelogue, the city awash in black and white. It reminded me very fondly of Rod Pitts' Memphis indie What Goes Around from a few years ago.

There's a little bit of a Jon Favreau/Vince Vaughn vibe in the chemistry between Wilson and his crass roommate, Jacob (Brian McGuire), who pushes a handful of condoms on him before his blind date. Midnight Kiss has a filthy mouth and a post-collegiate pragmatism about sex. It's pretty funny stuff.

What Midnight Kiss calls to mind more than anything is Richard Linklater's diptych, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, and perhaps it's not so surprising that all three films share a producer. Ultimately charming and tender, Midnight Kiss is worth checking out in what in all likelihood is the only time it will play here.

In Search of a Midnight Kiss

Thursday, February 12th, 7:30 p.m.

Brooks Museum of Art

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