SIFF 2019: Good Kisser

Seattle native Wendy Jo Carlton has outlined her niche. She writes the queer female experience fundamentally well, with quirk and believability instilled in her characters. Good Kisser finds the LGBTQ friendly director telling a local tale of love and lust, intertwined in a three-way relationship that’s hot and ready to burst. She plays wonderfully inside the pot-boiling tensions of her character’s romantic affairs. Good Kisser is as straightforward a movie as any romance could be. When a couple wants to expand their love by sharing it with a third partner, they find more out about themselves and each other than they’ve bargained for.

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Good Kisser. Dir. Wendy Jo Carlton.

Julia Eringer is Mia, a Good Kisser. She’s an alluring temptress for the couple of Kate (Rachel Paulson) and Jenna (Kari Allison Hodge) – a couple seeking a steamy third for a one-night tryst, with trust issues aplenty. The great character work here is done outside the sex. It’s the leadup and game of attraction that is so sultry and neatly compelling. The three actresses are very good, traipsing around a mysteriously rich Airbnb styled home gushing with romantic notions and pent up aggressions misdirected as sexual intention.

The film is shot cleanly and intimately. There is voyeurism to it like we’re watching in on something we certainly should not be. The attraction feels real and penetrating, the couple holding their romantic stakes up to the camera like knives they would like to cut through each other with. It plays out too basically and predictably for the great setup. It feels like there’s a mounting tension throughout that does not entirely pay dividends with the obviousness of how it plays on the screen. There is also an ending that does not feel entirely earned, certainly not satisfying for all of its members, or its audience.

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Good Kisser. Dir. Wendy Jo Carlton.

Good Kisser is fun while it stays in the mysteries of love. There’s a neighbor called Clark, played by Carter Rodriguez, who is intimately aware of all the secrets and the game at hand. When he appears and has one-on-ones with the girls in the shared yard, there is a certain satisfying question of ‘what is this all about anyway’ driving the plot onward. Good Kisser is a sizzling romance with a well-acted threesome of talented performers working above their pay grade. The film begins and ends with particularly well-considered shots of Seattle, making it one of the finer local interest stories of SIFF.

6/10

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