Okay, so the best thing about film festivals is stumbling into a film about which you know absolutely nothing and walk out, 90 minutes later, convinced you’ve just seen the best film of your life.
So, let me tell you about In Search Of A Midnight Kiss, then.
I didn’t know it even existed until about 11 last night when I was in the Filmhouse bar and a 30 second clip running on a reel of trailers caught my eye. It was a black and white image of a cool-looking, fair-haired girl with unfeasibly large sunglasses, drawing on a cigarette. I’m a bit of a sucker for that kind of thing, and a friend, Jason Solomons from The Observer, mentioned he’d heard it was very good.
It certainly is.
It’s an LA-shot indie, made for what looks like a fiver. In principle, it follows a similar pattern to Richard Linklater‘s film, Before Sunset (in fact, the producer Anne Walker-McBay has worked on a number of Linklater’s films).
Wilson, a twentysomething would-be scriptwriter, is coming out a particularly bad time after having split with his long-term girlfriend. It’s New Year’s Eve, and rather than face the night alone pontificating gloomily on his predicament, he posts a personal ad online for a date for the night. Which is how he meets Vivian.
Wilson’s a cynic, presumably burned in the wake of his recent split. But he’s caring, and warm. Vivian, on the face of it, could be trouble. She “auditions” him for five minutes before decided to go out with him, chainsmoking cigarettes as she does. She’s kinda kooky, kinda mysterious — but not in a dreadful, self-conscious way. You sense she, too, is fragile, has her own set of problems.
The two spend the evening walking and talking round LA. Their evening careers between moments of genuine, intimate human insight to bickering, flirting, drinking. Finally, there is a bittersweet liason of sorts.
What’s great about it is the way this blossoming relationship feels completely genuine. As Wilson and Vivian, Scoot McNairy and Sara Simmonds are both highly persuasive; you feel their relationship develop in an unhurried, believable way.
The film’s pretty funny, too. It opens with Wilson being caught masturbating by Jacob, his flatmate, over pictures of Jacob’s girlfriend, Min. If you think this is a low budget riff on gross-out teen comedies, then fortunately this spools out into a loose, charming and engaging romantic comedy.
The Festival are describing it as “the American indie discovery of the year“. At time of writing, it doesn’t seem to have a UK distributor, but I genuinely hope someone picks it up soon. It’s honestly one of those films that, when you see it, you’re hooked.
You can find more information about the film here.