It’s easy for romantic comedies to focus on the journey when the destination is left off the screen; our fated lovers always meet dramatically in the end, only to live happily ever after. That’s because the film ends, and everything is assumed static.
While many films try and subvert the tried and true formula, Pretend We’re Kissing, a self proclaimed non-rom-com, serves to tell a story of not necessarily the love of one’s life, but more like the love of one’s weekend.
That is not to give away too much, but this charmed indie Canadian film from Matt Sadowski feels more true to life, more authentic in all of romance’s passionate ups and awkward downs, that are far more about the journey than the destination. And that’s why it’s most winning.
Benny (Dov Tiefenbach) in his head – a lot. When he makes eyes with a cute girl at a concert, he racks his brain as to what to do. When his personal space is infringed upon by his carefree, nudist female roommate (Zoe Kravitz), he returns to his racing mind as to how to deal with her. Benny is rather an introvert.
However, the more carefree, spontaneous Jordan (Tommie-Amber Pirie, interview here), upon running into Benny again, pushes for an impromptu date and the two whisk away. It’s refreshing for both, and an authentic experience for any 20-something viewer. Toronto is the beautiful backdrop for a date not bounded y burden or responsibility. The two head to the Island and share magical moments, as well as some awkward ones as we return again to Benny’s head.
Director Matt Sadowski craftily uses the limitations of a shoestring budget and short shooting period: there are few cuts during the scenes, but the camera holding on the interactions enhances both the romance as well as the discomfort. It’s most apparent during a pair of scenes that follow their heavenly tryst, when the magic of the moment gives ways to the cruelness of reality.
Both Pirie and Tiefenbach effortless inhabit their character, believable people that you might find anywhere. They’re neither caricatures nor idealized version of a stereotype. Kravitz is this sort of foil to Benny, her perhaps misguided ideas of naturalism and harmony serving as both comedic targets and a polarizing perspective to Benny’s sheepish logic.
It’s both romantic and a comedy, but instead of being about finality, we delve into the moments that shape us. Or at least the ones that stick with us, even if we aren’t necessarily the best at interpreting what is happening. Telling a story often ignored or sensationalized, Pretend We’re Kissing is a refreshing, genuine, a likely familiar tale of the best and worst about falling in love.