Ten years after “L’Ultimo Bacio” (The Last Kiss) Gabriele Muccino takes up the story of his middle-class then twenty-something-nearly-thirties as they become thirty-somethings-nearly-forties, and the mid-life crisis closes in in Baciami Ancora (Kiss Me Again).
We left the characters with all their hopes and dreams for their adult future, but now nearly all shattered through broken marriages, unhappy relationships, failing health etc. etc. Stefano Accorsi’s Carlo has a young daughter and is dreading his imminent divorce hearing, as he is still in love with wife who now lives with their young daughter and a hard-up actor (“un cane“!). Pierfrancesco Favino (Angels and Demons) as Marco also has a struggling marriage, mostly due to his inability to produce children with his wife Livia (Daniele Piazza). Adriano (Giorgio Pasotti) returns after walking out on his wife and young child in the last film, only to find his friend Paolo (Claudio Santamaria) hitched-up with his wife Livia (the wonderful Sabrina Impacciatore) although refuses to let him live with her until he cures his depression and bipolarism behaviour disorder.
And as intriguing as it all may seem Muccino’s updated story is unfortunately not a patch on the original. It’s hard to say whether Giovanna Mezzogiorno (who refused to take part in the sequel) may have made it any better – her infuriated fiancée scene in L’Ultimo Bacio was more terrifying than The Exorcist – but there’s just none of the tension and intrigue of ten years ago and the whole thing just turns into a sprawling classy soap opera, just a tad better made and with slightly better acting then many of those tedious series you will find on Italian TV in any given week.
Accorsi’s character is still credible enough and he gives it his all in getting across how desperate Carlo still is in his unending quest for the happy life, but Marco and Paolo are more comical than convincing in their vain attempts to get what they want out of (mid)life. Paolo’s tragic end gives the obligatory pathos but the morgue scene borrows heavily from Ferzan Ozpetek’s far superior “Saturno Contro”, and at over two hours long you sort of wish they’d all follow his example and put us out of our misery.
PS But Italian cinema could be, and is, worse .. Veronesi’s “Genitori e Figli..” must take prize for worst Italian film of the year…so far.