BFI Flare 2021 ‘Kiss Me Before it Blows Up’ Review: Playing it Safe in Risky Territory

Israeli Jewish woman Shira Shalev (Moran Rosenblatt) is in love with her German girlfriend Maria (Luise Wolfram). Shira’s family are supportive of her love life, but are reluctant to accept a German lover. Tensions are heightened when Maria suddenly proposes to Shira, propelling the pair into an awkward and potentially disastrous collision of cultures where history and prejudice threatens to tear the young couple apart, especially when Maria’s parents arrive.

Despite it’s potentially fraught subject matter, Kiss Me Before It Blows Up is a breezy romantic comedy in an American tradition. It has a bright colour palette, snappy dialogue and some very familiar plot beats. This light approach does make subjects surrounded by stigma more accessible, but it also takes away some of the films bite. There’s an air of inauthenticity to proceedings that somewhat detracts from what could be a very effecting love story.

The comedy is also a little stilted with big expressive gestures, sassy comments and knowing eye rolls. It feels quite written and everybody speaks with the same voice, which becomes very noticeable in such a cross generational story. Everyone is either the smartest person in the room or a straw man. Familiar archetypes include the bigoted dad, the neurotic mother and a little sister who’s always on the phone.

The film is bolstered by two superb lead performances from Rosenblatt and Wolfram. Rosenblatt plays Shira with a confidence and authenticity that really pulls the disparate elements of the script together. Wolfram, meanwhile, is effortlessly charming but convincingly lost amidst the chaos of new family. It’s wonderful to see her find her feet and learn to engage with the overwhelming prejudice against her.

At the heart of the film is a universal theme of love flourishing between members of an old conflict, protecting their right to love each other against a family who are holding on to old grudges and grievances. Throughout the film Shira is haunted by history, both personal and cultural. She is haunted by the spectres of past relationships, and every interaction with her family results in more political conflict.

Kiss Me Before it blows up ultimately plays it very safe. It’s a feel good romantic comedy that is only frustrating in that it could have been just a little more daring. But sometimes it’s nice to just see a drama in which a lesbian couples biggest problem isn’t homophobia. Ultimately relationships face many obstacles and it’s nice to see conflict start with at least a basic level of common humanity.

Three Stars



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