Previously known for some rather mediocre films, director Dana Lustig returns with A Thousand Kisses Deep (2011) – a thought provoking, if somewhat overly ambitious, sci-fi drama starring Jodie Whittaker of Attack The Block fame and Dougray Scott who recently appeared as Arthur Miller in My Week with Marilyn (2011).
Mia (Whittaker) is a troubled woman haunted by the painful memories of ex-lover Ludwig (Scott) who she has never been able to stop loving. Mia’s life is turned upside down when her landlord Max (David Warner) makes her take the apartment elevator that has the power to allow Mia to regress through time. As she travels further and further into the past Mia learns of the secrets that have plagued her subconscious all her life.
Admittedly, from the synopsis A Thousand Kisses Deep sounds awful. A time-travelling elevator is not an easy plot device to accept, and certainly not trouble-free in the context of a drama. According to the director, this film seeks to ‘explore the psychoanalytical experience’ – namely regression, a bold subject to tackle. Both the writers and director have tried hard to make this work and at times they manage it, however, when they don’t the film falls down rather hard.
The cinematography is strong with some interesting shots and deft shots which captivate and add a great deal of strength to this otherwise struggling movie. However, unlike the mastery demonstrated in Leonard Cohen’s poem, from which the movie takes its title, this film only half works at best. The use of jazz is good but perhaps gets a little too close to the cliché of the troubled musician.
There are far too many concepts going on in A Thousand Kisses Deep – quite aside from the ambitious attempt to cinematically demonstrate a subject that takes years for even professional psychoanalysts to understand. The attempt is brave, and certainly an improvement on previous works by Lustig, but it tries too hard. Stripped of some of it psychological themes and shot as a straight drama this film might have achieved something greater, but as it stands it is rather mediocre fare.