A Thousand Kisses DeepOn the day she returns from collecting her estranged mother’s personal effects, Mia Selva stumbles across the apparent suicide of an elderly neighbour. Though she has never noticed the woman before, something about her death fall beckons her to take a closer look. The photographs scattered around her body are all of Mia’s lover, and tormentor, Ludwig. Unsettled, Mia asks their building’s custodian to allow her inside the dead woman’s home. She crosses the threshold into an eerily familiar room and embarks upon a journey into her own past which forces her to confront the most painful moments of her life – past and future.

Jodie Whittaker (Attack the Block) plays the many incarnations of Mia in this slaloming psychological thriller. Dougray Scott takes on the role of charismatic sadist Ludwig, the love of her unhappy life. The pair, together with custodian Max (David Warner), reunite, fight and reconcile their way across time with a shuddering cage-elevator as Mia’s portal to these revealing tableau. Part Sliding Doors, part humourless Hot Tub Time Machine – in shades of oatmeal and grey – A Thousand Kisses Deep is an ambitious attempt to explore the human psyche and the psychoanalytic journey with a sci-fi flourish. Unfortunately it is, for the most part, a very dull journey indeed.

In its favour are the performances of the four leads, which are delivered with utter conviction and perfectly straight faces. Impressive work in light of the surprise conclusion the final script pages had, presumably, divulged. Emilia Fox, as Mia’s morally bankrupt mother, does a beautiful job of breathing veracity and passion into her unsympathetic character. Dougray Scott takes Ludwig’s toe-curling villainy to its furthest extremity, to the very edge of pantomime, without ever tumbling into improbability. And Jodie Whittaker does her very best within the constraints of her role and does genuinely shine in moments with her ten-year-old self as the excruciating truth is exposed.

The first problem lies with the protagonist. Mia is an enigma, somewhat necessarily in order that the biggest twist may remain a surprise, with the unfortunate side effect that it is quite impossible to care what becomes of her. There is a sketch of her pre-time-travelling life provided but her character is an unknown quantity. The same could be said of Sliding Doors’ Helen were she not such a distinctive ‘type’ but the facts revealed about Mia are too ambiguous for presumption. The second problem is that the final, shocking, swing the plot takes – the big reveal – is rather obvious and ever so slightly…funny. I acknowledge that it is supposed to be a jaw-dropper (and I take the risk that you will watch it, pick your jaw up from the floor and judge me callous and cold) but I defy you not to laugh too.

A Thousand Kisses Deep is a svelte 81 minutes long yet the helter skelter ride the film forces its audience to undertake feels at least 60 minutes longer – with splinters of irritation accumulating at every turn. Jodie Whittaker reads my favourite verses from Leonard Cohen’s A Thousand Kisses Deep across the opening credits and Dougray Scott recites more over the credits as they close. My advice to you would be to find a recording of the great man himself and listen to it a few dozen times instead. It will take and break your heart, linger in your soul and save you the experience of watching this tedious film.

A Thousand Kisses Deep is available to buy on DVD from 4th Feb


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Emily Breen began writing for HeyUGuys in 2009. She favours pretzels over popcorn and rarely watches trailers as she is working hard to overcome a compulsion to ‘solve’ plots. Her trusty top five films are: Betty Blue, The Red Shoes, The Princess Bride, The Age of Innocence and The Philadelphia Story. She is troubled by people who think Tom Hanks was in The Philadelphia Story and by other human beings existing when she is at the cinema.