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MGM Studios DVD presents
Kissed (1996)

"It's like looking into the sun without going blind. I'm consumed."
- Sandra Larson (Molly Parker)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: February 24, 2006

Stars: Molly Parker, Peter Outerbridge
Other Stars: Jay Brazeau
Director: Lynne Stopkewich

MPAA Rating: R for (aberrant sexuality, some language)
Run Time: 01h:18m:37s
Release Date: August 23, 2005
UPC: 027616878922
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ A-C-C+ D-

DVD Review

Edgy independent filmmakers have never shied away from tackling taboo subject matter. However, one such subject has rarely been touched on in film, and that is necrophilia. This isn't exactly surprising, as most of us tend not to get excited by the thought of having sex with a dead body. For those of you who do, Kissed isn't exactly going to allow you to realize your fantasies, as this excellent little 1996 Canadian import is an exercise in atmospheric, subtle storytelling that examines a troubled woman, while at the same time, challenging the audience to decide how they should feel about her.

Kissed is driven by the extremely talented Molly Parker. During her relatively short career, she has used her girl-next-door beauty and intelligence to create some of the most memorable characters in the last 10 years, including a prostitute with boundaries (The Center of the World) and a shrewd Old West businesswoman (Deadwood). It takes a great deal of courage to be the centerpiece of such subject matter, and Parker handles this with ease, never crossing the line into exploitation and cheap controversy.

Sandra Larson (Parker) has had a fascination with death since she was a small child. When her bird died, she wasn't satisfied with placing it in a shoe box and burying it. Instead, she treated it as if it was a human corpse, conserving its body the best she could, simply gazing at it from time to time. While in college studying to be a mortician, Sandra lands a job in a funeral home. Soon, she realizes that she is attracted to the bodies of young men waiting to be embalmed. Sandra meets Matt (Peter Outerbridge) in a coffee shop, and who seems interested in her fetish. As they become closer, their impending intimacy threatens to force Sandra to choose between the living and the dead.

Peter Outerbridge takes what is usually a hapless role (the sane half of the relationship), and does a fantastic job with it. He starts off as a curious observer to Sandra's strange lifestyle, initially attracted to her strange beauty. Outerbridge really impresses once he learns the details of why his partner isn't into their sex life, and finds himself on the verge of insanity himself.

Kissed was directed by Lynne Stopkewich (Lilith on Top), who handles this extremely delicate subject matter in a way that fellow Canadian, David Cronenberg would be more than proud of. Her task is a difficult one, but she runs with it, smartly focusing on the central character, and refraining from showing too much graphic footage of Sandra's little hobby.

At its center, this is a stellar character study of a troubled woman. This is a project that warrants post-viewing discussion that could last much longer than its brief 78-minute running time, and for that alone, it is easy to recommend.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The video is in nonanamorphic 1.66:1 widescreen, and the reason it wasn't enhanced for widescreen televisions is beyond me. Aside from this misstep, the transfer is in pretty good shape. Black and shadow levels are handled well, while contrast is good enough to enhance image clarity. There is some grain and dirt, but overall, everything is as sharp and colorful as expected.

Image Transfer Grade: C-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio is unspectacular, but just fine for the material. The surrounds aren't used much, but the excellent soundtrack does get to fill the rear speakers quite a bit. The rest of the sound comes from the front, with the crisp dialogue always working well with the rest of the mix.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Unfortunately, the only extra feature is the theatrical trailer for Kissed.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

When it's said that a film isn't for everyone, Kissed is exactly what's meant. Asking someone to get past the main subject of the plot is a tall order, but if you can, you'll get to enjoy this film and its lead performance. MGM's DVD is generally solid, thanks to a decent audio track, but there's only one extra feature, and the nonanamorphic widescreen transfer is a disappointment.


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