Reviews

Reviews

Kissed

Kissed

Lynne Stopkewich

Canada, 1996

Credits

Review by Rumsey Taylor

Posted on 11 July 2004

Source VHS

It is Kissed’s greatest disservice that its ostensible subject is necrophilia. The short description often paraphrases its content, ultimately revealing little about the film. Finally, it is a futile claim to make that Kissed is less about necrophilia than it is about the nature of obsession and addiction. Though this is a perennial (and often generic) theme in film, in Kissed it is uniquely characterizing.

We meet Sandra in her early youth. She remembers, as a girl, having an intense fascination with death. She finds dead birds and squirrels, wraps their fragile corpses in protection, and engages in a ritualistic burial.

At a birthday party Sandra is uninvolved (the remaining kids play a very participatory game of spin the bottle), and notices the only other girl not playing. Sandra enfranchises Carol (“She was my first friend”) in her ritualistic funerals. Carol is off-put when, during one such session, Sandra strips, dances and rubs the body of a deceased squirrel around her body; she squeezes, and the body bleeds over her.

The prior action is the announcement of Sandra’s pubescent initiation. The blood paired with Sandra’s age symbolizes a loss of innocence (her mother, noticing the blood, gives her a box of tampons and “the talk”). Losing her only friend, it is evident her addiction — its excluding nature, particularly — has alienated her.

Older, Sandra has a job in a flower boutique, and naturally a delivery places her in a funeral home. “I’d like to work here,” she announces responsively, and soon has a job. It is at this place that Sandra’s fascination with death becomes irredeemably committed and, as later events will tell, fatal.

Sandra has the natural human desire and capacity for love, yet channels her desire in an eclectic fashion — her practice is not unhealthy, just affrontingly irregular. The act of sex with corpses supplies an important benefit, one that is not found in traditional intercourse. In her “mates” Sandra experiences their lives, their griefs and joys. She connects with them.

Despite her underwhelming addiction, Sandra is an attractive, slender woman, and is totally open-minded. Discerning these qualities at a distance is Matt, who becomes insatiably interested in her. In the second meeting of the two (within a minute of revealing their names) Sandra admits her practices. Matt is impressed, as it affirms the reasons for his attraction.

Kissed dons the task of legitimizing its content, and it is a difficult one given the inherent controversy of its premise. In one scene, Sandra (en route to a funeral, perhaps) drives a hearse. Inside the radio plays an upbeat and ironic number, and Sandra glances continually at the rear-view mirror towards a coffin. She drives to a car wash, climbs in the back and opens the coffin, viewing the face of her anonymous lover. This is a distinctive action in Kissed; it undoubtedly garners laughter, though is legitimately significant for its eroticism.

Contrary to what the premise suggests, Kissed is not a graphic film, nor is it an exploitative one. Sandra is justifiably as sick as other addicts in film, though her practices afford her experiences alien to conventional relationships. Kissed does not tempt those to convert, by any means, though regards its subject with sympathy — this is a redemptive quality.

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