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Film review: Shall We Kiss?

Published: Thursday, May 21 2009 4:04 p.m. MDT

After many decades, New Yorker Woody Allen has changed his film locations from his usual Manhattan surroundings to more European ones, as he shoots most of his movies across the Atlantic these days.

What makes it all the more ironic is that "Shall We Kiss?" — a comedy that was written and directed by a European filmmaker Emmanuel Moret — is more like one of Allen's films than any of his more recent, European efforts.

Admittedly, this Gallic romantic comedy is silly fluff, and it may not be up to the standards of an Allen classic like "Annie Hall." But it's fun, and it's certainly better than American-made romantic comedy tripe like "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past."

As for the film's title, it refers to a conundrum for Gabriel (Micha? Cohen) and ?ilie (Julie Gayet). These two just met and are clearly attracted to each other. However, they're both in committed relationships.

So instead of sharing a kiss, they share their experiences and reasons why they shouldn't be more than casual acquaintances.

?ilie's story is about two close friends — the unhappily single Nicolas (Mouret) and seemingly happily married Judith (Virginie Ledoyen) — who indulge in a supposedly "innocent" and consequence-free fling.

Refreshingly, Mouret also shows that marital infidelity is not without serious repercussions. Judith's husband, Claudio (Stefano Accorsi), is devastated by the news of his wife's unfaithfulness.

(Another irony: Accorsi's most high-profile role to date was as a philandering father-to-be in 2001's "The Last Kiss.")

Still, Mouret (2004's "Venus and Fleur") keeps the tone light for the most part, and his cast seems to be having a good time.

He and Ledoyen are very appealing performers, as are Cohen and Gayet. We want to like these people, though some of their actions are questionable.

"Shall We Kiss?" is not rated but would probably receive an R for suggestive language and talk (mostly slang), brief simulated sex and other sexual contact (some of it implied), brief male and partial female nudity, brief drug references (pharmaceuticals), and some derogatory language and slurs. Running time: 100 minutes.

E-mail: jeff@desnews.com