Kiss and tell

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Spread the news about endearing indie romance

By Matt Brunson

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IN SEARCH OF A MIDNIGHT KISS

***1/2

DIRECTED BY Alex Holdridge

STARS Scoot McNairy, Sara Simmonds

It's a great feeling, isn't it, falling in love with a movie about falling in love? That's the case with In Search of a Midnight Kiss, an irresistible indie effort about two lonely souls hoping to find some modicum of contentment on the streets of Los Angeles. It's this year's version of 2 Days In Paris, a smart, perceptive, slightly cynical film which upends the traditional romantic comedy by marinating it in the realities of the modern world.

It starts off shortly before New Year's Eve, when people are desperate to find someone at the last minute so they don't have to welcome the new year alone. For failed screenwriter and successful slacker Wilson (Scoot McNairy), that means finding an alternative to simply masturbating over a Photoshopped picture of the girlfriend (Katy Luong) of his easygoing roommate Jacob (Brian Matthew McGuire). At Jacob's insistence, Wilson posts a self-deprecating singles ad on Craigslist; to his surprise, he receives a reply from a woman named Vivian (Sara Simmonds), who agrees to meet him in person. Vivian, to put it bluntly, is a real piece of work: abrasive, rude, callow, and promising to dump Wilson before sunset if he doesn't keep her entertained. But as the hours pass, both of them let down their guard and seem poised to make a real connection.

Both the situations and the dialogue created by writer-director Alex Holdridge come across as honest rather than scripted, and his interest in fleshing out his characters extends past Wilson and Vivian and also touches Jacob and his girlfriend Min. All four actors do an exemplary job of making their characters sympathetic -- a real challenge, in the case of Simmonds -- and the entire movie is filmed in crisp black and white by Robert Murphy. And while we've come to expect our indie-flick soundtracks to be suitable for the occasion, the one featured here is a real treat, highlighted by Sybil's remake of Scorpions' power ballad "Wind of Change." Tactfully employed in both the final scene as well as the end credits, it truly allows audiences to head home with a song in their heart.

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