In Search of a Midnight Kiss is an interesting concept for a film – it is obviously derivative but wraps itself up in an ‘indie’ appearance suggesting it contains hidden depths that it clearly doesn’t. Were it not so enjoyable it would be easy to be critical.
Wilson (Scoot McNairy) is a late-twenties recent import to L.A. who hopes to make it big as a screenwriter, but whose laptop containing his script was recently stolen. Depressed, he longs for his ex-girlfriend while lusting after his best mate’s girlfriend Min (Kathleen Luong). After being caught by his best mate Jacob (Brian McGuire) ‘relieving the tension’ to a photoshopped picture of her, and given it is New Year’s Eve, they set about finding him a new love via an online dating service. Within minutes he is off on an adventure and meeting the mysterious and challenging Vivian (Sara Simmonds).
In Search of a Midnight Kiss proudly trumpets in its own advertising that it was produced by the producer of Before Sunset and Dazed & Confused, both films by Richard Linklater. The parallel with both Before Sunrise and Before Sunset are obvious and for anyone who loved those films it may be hard to overcome in appreciating this one. Although the characters are far more earthy and the cinematography – thanks largely to the use of black & white – also contributes to the portrayal of Los Angeles’ seedier elements, essentially the film is of two people meeting and then having a prolonged conversation while wandering around.
The performances are quite good, with Wilson especially moving through a definite arc from broken to restored. The transitions along the way aren’t always as based in reality as they should be, but the audience does go along with him for the journey. Vivian’s troubles are perhaps more immediate, and one never quite gets the impression she is handling them very well. Simmonds brings a gaudy confidence with a certain fragility that allows Vivian to become more appealing than when we first meet her.
The film moves along at a crisp pace, although certain subplots are raised and never adequately resolved – the attention being firmly focussed on the change Wilson and Vivian cause in each other. It is hard not to be swept away in their budding romance, although one always senses how things may end for this pair.
Comparisons with Before Sunrise/Sunset will always leave In Search of a Midnight Kiss wanting, as the script and characters are far less polished. This could be viewed as a far grungier, more modern homage to those films, however, and is enjoyable without having quite the impact it hopes for.Rating: