Nothing's gone right for Wilson (Scoot McNairy, "Art School Confidential") since his girlfriend dumped him and he moved to L.A. After his roommates Jacob (Judge Reinhold lookalike Brian McGuire) and Min (Kathleen Luong) catch him in an embarrassing act, they try to rouse him from his stoned stupor and find a date for New Year's Eve. Wilson gets a response to his ad looking for a fellow misanthrope and Vivian (Sara Simmonds) is not what he expected "In Search of a Midnight Kiss."
Writer/director Alex Holdridge ("Sexless"), a transplanted Texan, looks at L.A. through the New York eyes of Woody Allen and creates a black and white love letter to the smog ridden city of aspiring dreamers. But "In Search of a Midnight Kiss" is not all peaches and cream, its heroine indicative of the place itself, a feisty, rude, confrontational woman with a tender, artistic, vulnerable center. In looking for L.A.'s historical past amidst its sometimes squalid present, Holdridge has achieved a minor miracle in making the city a romantic backdrop.
The characters he peoples his New Year's tale with are all worth following as well. Thinking he's home alone, Wilson photoshops his buddy Jacob's girlfriend's face onto a nude photo to use for private recreation, but he's caught in the act. Unruffled, Min tells Wilson she thinks the gesture was flattering. A little less sure, Jacob works his buddy, who has been ground down by a string of awful luck, to get off his duff and find a date. Wilson posts a discouraging ad on craigslist and is surprised to get a call from a woman who insists he meet her at a downtown cafe at 4 p.m. so she can 'interview' him. Jacob and Min doll him up and Jacob drives him to his destination, confiding that he will propose to Min tonight and that Wilson should be sure to get to the party Jacob will be DJing later that night.
We've gotten a glimpse of Vivian on the phone, chain-smoking and chugging from the vodka bottle set among a bunch of pill bottles. We do not have a great feeling about Vivian and suspect Wilson may be about to have an "After Hours" kind of evening (and in some ways he does!). Wilson's initial impression seems to be about the same as ours, as Vivian accuses him of being a pervert and a liar, makes him wait through another 'interview' whom she treats dismissively before telling Wilson he's got until six o'clock as she doesn't want to waste her evening with a loser. They begin to walk the streets of L.A. Things begin to look up when Wilson impresses Vivian by convincing a security guard to let them tour a locked up theater, but not without some bumps in the road.
Scoot McNairy is terrific in the lead role, an Every Guy in a funk whom you'll want to bet on as much as his buddy Jacob. Sara Simmonds takes a challenging role and meets it head on, giving us an initial impression that seems impossible to win our favor back from, then doing it. Brian McGuire is great as the best buddy who seems to have things going for him, but hints at a lack of confidence and Kathleen Luong creates a flirtatious Min who gives a bittersweet edge to the relationship which seems tailor made on the surface only. In a small role as Wilson's Mother, Twink Caplan ("Clueless") goes a bit over the top and although he has a pretty one-note role as Vivian's ex Jack, Robert Murphy gives the film a whole lotta soul with his cinematography. Holdridge's direction is strong and his screenplay doesn't go where we expect while showing mature insight into what makes a relationship work.
"In Search of a Midnight Kiss" is an unusual love story that uses L.A. as a crumbling city of dreams. Its focus on the New Year's Eve holiday should make it a perennial cult film for years to come.
Robin did not see this film.
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