Ryan Chartrand

Critics have hailed “In Search of a Midnight Kiss,” directed by Alex Holdridge, as the best American indie film in years, with comparisons to Woody Allen’s early works such as “Manhattan,” and “Annie Hall”. The film is entirely black and white and gives the viewer the unique perspective of spying on someone’s private life. It has an unscripted feel, which leads to extremely genuine dialogue, with few awkward moments.

Meet Wilson (Scoot McNairy). Most areas of his life are completely disjointed, and he spends his days wallowing in self-depreciating squalor about a life that didn’t work out. Single, and not ready to mingle, the failed playwright takes his friend’s advice and posts an ad, “misanthrope seeks misanthrope” style on craigslist.com to avoid being alone in Los Angeles on New Year’s Eve.

It is not long after posting that he receives more than he bargained for by way of a phone call by a mysterious woman. When he is instructed to meet her at a café, he obliges, and finds himself in the passenger seat of his best friend’s car, reluctantly listening to a blunt lecture on condoms on his way to the date.

It is safe to say that nice-guy Wilson has never met anyone like self-medicating Vivian (Sara Simmonds) before, and he probably never will again. But one thing is certain: this date is anything but ordinary, and as they stroll through downtown Los Angeles, one cannot help but feel taken aback by Vivian. She is beautiful, but rough and manic at the same time. At times it is almost too much to watch, and it is pretty unbelievable that he doesn’t run back to the car after her haughty introduction.

With more time and lots of banter, it is possible to get used to her personality, and perhaps even appreciate her rashness. As the film progresses, we see her character develop into more than just a crazy sunglass-wearing man-hater (thank God!) and into her real role of being the damaged and abused wife of a crazy, abusive Texan “hick.” Her character is a lot to take in; you should probably just see the film to understand for yourself.

The film really is beautiful, with thoughtful voiceovers and a gorgeous look at the otherwise harsh streets of Los Angeles. Through the black and white veil, we are able to see a more genuine look at the city and the characters. In many films, things just seem to work out, and situations flow seamlessly. With “Midnight Kiss,” the viewers are privileged to a rare and honest account of human nature at its most raw.

If not only for its truth and brilliance, I felt moved by the film’s candid ability to represent everyday people, in an extraordinary way. Wilson’s character is undoubtedly the real gem; no matter how loud Vivian’s voice was in the film, it was Wilson that made it what it was. He is charming, without being overwhelming.

As they explore the city, Wilson and Vivian learn about each other, and foster an understanding connection, as well as a strong attraction. Wilson does not want her to leave, and neither does she, although she puts up a pretty dramatic show of displeasure with him for a while. They really don’t have much in common, but it worked because both characters were able to really appreciate odd little things. She wanted to be an actress, and he a playwright, and rightfully so because in the end, she is acting how he would want her to.

The film’s ending is tragic, but in a true to life way that isn’t at all conventional. People make mistakes, and people get into tough situations. And yes, it is true that often times these situations can and will not be resolved by the end of the allotted two hours of film. In fact, in this case, nothing is resolved, and it shouldn’t be any other way.

This film is something both genders can relate to and enjoy. It is an artistic expression of a snapshot of a day; a piece of two people’s 24 hours, in search for more than just a midnight kiss.

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