A scene from in The Last Kiss, in theatres today.


The Last Kiss

Director: Tony Goldwyn

Stars: Zach Braff, Casey Affleck

Rating: 14A

**** (out of five)

In the new American comedy-drama The Last Kiss, Zach Braff plays a man in his twenties who finds himself teetering on the verge of something very important — an emotional awakening, maybe, or a panic attack that could last the rest of his life. (There’s a younger woman involved, as well, and though her arrival in his life didn’t exactly trigger this event, it’s certainly helped move it along.)

If this sounds kind of familiar, that’s because The Last Kiss — which began as a remake of Gabriele Muccino’s 2002 art-house hit L’Ultimo Bacio — has been reworked, by screenwriter Paul Haggis and director Tony Goldwyn, into a variation on Braff’s own 2004 sleeper Garden State. (Braff reportedly worked on this film’s script and soundtrack, too.)

The Last Kiss doesn’t have the lyricism of Garden State, or the clenched tension of Muccino’s original film, and Haggis’ script is awfully symmetrical — much like the blueprint for crisis that was Crash — when it needs to be organic and ragged. Still, the movie manages to find its own emotional rhythm, thanks to a set of sharp performances, including Braff, an inherently likeable actor playing someone who does some very unlikable things; his pregnant girlfriend, Jacinda Barrett; Casey Affleck, as a friend struggling with parenthood, who pivots gracefully between comic relief and dramatic gravity, and Tom Wilkinson and Blythe Danner, as Barrett’s troubled parents.

But it all sits on Braff’s shoulders, and the guy pulls it off.