OK, another confession. I do like the odd 'rom-com'. Particularly if they have a bit of an edge to them, like 'Love, Actually' or 'Addicted to Love'. This one doesn't particularly have 'any' kind of edge per se. Well, other than the fact that it has Meg Ryan in it, and she always seems to bring some kind of edge to her performances. I think my love of this film stems from the fact that it was released at a time when things were literally all 'flowers and roses' and it has stayed linked with me and pretty much always evokes that particular time of my life, even 22 years later! Anytime I rewatch this film, I am right back there.
That's not to say that's the only reason it's on this list. It's not. It's an absolutely brilliant film from start to finish and Meg Ryan's Kate is a joy to watch as she lurches from what she thought was perfection to disaster to revenge and then back to perfection. Make no mistake, she is the star of this film and whilst Kevin Kline's Luc (Lyook) Tessier is equally important, it's Kate's story and it's her journey that make's the film what it is.
The plot, such as it is, is pretty standard 'rom-com' fair. Kate's fiancee (played by Timothy Hutton) goes on a business trip to France. He wants her to go with him, but she is going through the citizenship process having just moved to Canada to be with him and is not permitted to leave Canada until the naturalisation process is completed. Also, she has a fear of flying, which we see at the beginning of the film (cleverly the beginning scene comes full circle at the end in the greatest of rom-com tradition). He goes off and he starts off calling her every night, then every other night and then the calls stop. Until one night he calls her drunk out of his gourd and tells her he's fallen in love with a French 'Goddess'. She hurriedly packs a bag and despite her fears flies off to get him back. That's it! The entire plot. It's what happens to her along the way that makes this movie so good.
Kevin Kline's character ends up sitting next to her and seeing her as a bit of a 'rube' uses her to smuggle contraband into France, telling her he will be her guide on her quest through Paris in order to win her loved one back. Luc loses sight of her at the airport when a policeman friend of his who is also at the airport (a slightly 'underused' Jean Reno) upon seeing him concludes Luc must be up to no good and drives him back into Paris instead.
The sub-plot surrounds 'what' it is that Kline has had her smuggle into the country but it's during their journey across France that Luc starts to realise that Kate is not quite the 'bumbling' uncultured American he had at first presumed and (of course) starts to fall for her.
There's some brilliant comic scenes throughout the film as she first catches sight of her beloved and his new 'goddess', faints, is robbed, ends up moneyless and lost on the streets of Paris, tries unsuccessfully to get back to Canada and then America (being rebuffed by both), before reuniting with Luc even more determined to win her Charlie back.
I've never seen a review of this film, but suspect the one thing all of the critics will have homed in on, is Kevin Cline's 'french' accent. I don't know what a French person would have to say about it, but it's French enough for me and in all honesty is not that dissimilar from Jean Reno's accent when he's speaking English. As I say, it's probably not 100% correct, but then he's an American actor, not a French actor. As I say, it's good enough for me and doesn't distract from his excellent performance at all.
This film though, departs from the 'hearts and flowers' of most rom-coms and tries to deal with the question of what is 'love'. Kate states at the beginning that she loves Charlie (but does she really, or is she just settling for being comfortable), Charlie has proposed to Kate, but why - he's clearly not in love with her as the moment he's out of reach of her, he falls for someone else. I suppose there are some that might say that Kate doesn't make a very empowering statement by running off after a man that has admitted to cheating on her, but I say, why the hell shouldn't you fight for someone you love, if you truly believe that person does love you in return. The thing is, Kate doesn't really know what she wants and what's more like life than that. I think there are a lot of people who 'think' they know what they want - Kate is one of those. So is Luc for that matter. The eponymous 'Kiss' when it comes, shakes Luc's entire world, you visibly see his perceptions of Kate, himself and what he thinks he wants shift - and so they should! It's the surprises that life throws at us along the way that make for the best memories - and most lasting relationships.