‘Kisses’ tells too little about its heroes
In “Kisses,’’ Kylie (Kelly O’Neill) and Dylan (Shane Curry) live next door to each other. They wind up running away to Dublin together from their volatile suburban households. He’s not so sure it’s a good idea. But she disagrees: “After breaking the kitchen window and bursting them pipes — I’m gonna get reefed out too!’’ What the writer and director, Lance Daly, means as some kind of transporting urban adventure for them is a disenchanting slog for us.
Kylie and Dylan go looking for his brother who left home two years ago and hasn’t been heard from since. They ride a barge, meet a hooker, and talk to two Bob Dylan impersonators. Kylie is mistaken for a hooker — she’s 10! — and a homeless child. The men and women who give them advice or a little money appear to be immigrants; they treat these two with more kindness than most Irish folks, including the kids’ parents.
But Daly appears to be after our heartstrings more than he is interested in politics. His movie is an unseemly mix of grit and sentimentality — candy with gravel in it. Watching Kylie and Dylan eat sandwiches, sleep beneath cardboard, or run from perverts, you might think about other movies featuring scrappy kids from the British Isles — Jim Sheridan’s overrated “In America,’’ say, or Danny Boyle’s scandalously under-seen “Millions.’’
This is a far more modest movie (it looks like it was made for nothing and runs about 72 minutes). But imagination and good storytelling don’t cost a thing. Daly seems unsure of how much curiosity and wonder to stir in with the dribs of melodrama, danger, and realism. Often his camera is too far away to make us feel close to these characters. Also: I liked his heroes a lot less than he does. Kylie curses up a storm, Dylan is passive, but they do throw a mean beer bottle at strangers. Neither character has any inner life that the filmmaker cares to realize. Daly goes too far out of his way to avoid being cute. An abduction sequence, for instance, has you rooting for the wrong people.
Most annoyingly, this city journey is made via the Heelys-like sneakers Kylie and Dylan buy. The choice to see the film as a charmless long-form commercial is up to you. But the lights that blink from the soles of Dylan’s feet have an unintended use. Under the circumstances, they’re cautionary alarms as much as they are tennis shoes.