Kissed is the title of two very different movies.

Kissed, a King Baggot directed silent romantic comedy, was produced for Universal Films and had its theatrical debut on May 22nd, 1922. The movie's female lead was noted Canadian silent film actress Marie Prevost. It was a largely forgettable formula movie, commonly produced by the big studios of the time.

The more recent "Kissed", starring stunningly beautiful Canadian actress Molly Parker, is the first film directed by Lynne Stopkewich. The Canadian production is notable for its erotic treatment of necrophilia, and is largely based on "We So Seldom Look on Love", a short story by Barbara Gowdy. Kissed was easily the most controversial movie shown at the 1997 Sundance and Toronto International Film festivals. Widely critically acclaimed, it was nominated for several awards.

Synopsis

Kissed follows the life of Sandra Larson, a woman whose sexuality becomes entwined with death in a very intriguing way. While necrophilia is an aberrant condition, the film is more about romantic notions, the nature of obsession and addiction than it is about sex. We come to understand how Sandra romanticizes death, and embraces her abnormal desires. The film deals with this taboo subject in a non-exploitive, non-graphic way. Sandra is as sick as other addicts, which are commonly portrayed in films in a sympathetic light, though her practices afford her experiences alien to the public impression of decency. Kissed does not tempt those to convert, by any means, though regards its subject with sympathy.

The film starts with Sandra as a young girl, and explores her intense fascination with death. Everyone has a dead bird story, and Sandra is no exception. Her play becomes ritualistic, and secret burials of small animals she finds deceased soon involve mummification and caressing. Sandra feels it is her job to care for the little dead things, and to help them cross over into death. She soon makes a friend, Carol. Sandra soon involves Carol in her worship, and she is horrified when Sandra strips, dances and rubs the body of a dead squirrel around her body during a burial. The squirrels’ body bleeds all over her. Sandra is rejected by her only friend, and her mother, assuming the blood is from menstruation, gives her a box of tampons and "the talk". Her strange obsession has alienated her only friend, and is now firmly linked with sexual maturity in Sandra's mind.

As Sandra matures, so do her appetites. Older and now working in a flower shop, a delivery places her in a funeral home. She impulsively applies and soon has a job. After learning the tools of the trade, Sandra gives in to her compulsion. She feels a deep pity for the bodies in her care and her natural human desire and capacity for love are expressed in her own extreme fashion. The act of sex allows Sandra to experience the lives and connect with the deceased. In her mind, she is helping the dead to cross over into the afterlife, with her bliss giving them the final push. Her sexuality is entirely bound up in her spirituality.

Despite her obscene addiction, Sandra is an attractive, slender woman, and decidedly open-minded. A coworker at the funeral parlor, Matt, becomes extremely interested in her. Within a minute of revealing their names to each other, Sandra admits her practices. Matt is not taken aback, and if anything is more interested. Sandra and Matt start a relationship, but Matt feels that he is in competition with the dead. Jealousy drives him and pleasing Sandra becomes his obsession. The conflicting obsessions make for a interesting study about the human condition.

Kissed is about necrophilia, but it is also spirituality and transcendence of the soul. Sandra performs what she feels is a sacrament for the departed. She truly feels that her body is helping send the lonely souls on to heaven, and it is as much a duty of hers as it is a release. The audience ends up feeling sympathy and understanding for Sandra. Her desires fall outside the mainstream, and she struggles with the question of acknowledging their nature, or denying herself sexual and spiritual fulfillment.

"At the end of the shoot, every single person working on the film said they would choose cremation." - Director Lynne Stopkewich

Cast overview:

Molly Parker as Sandra Larson
Peter Outerbridge as Matt
Jay Brazeau as Mr. Wallis, Mortician
Natasha Morley as Young Sandra
Jessie Winter Mudie as Carol, Sandra's Best Friend
James Timmons as Jan, Mortuary Janitor
Joe Maffei as Biology Teacher
Robert Thurston as Detective
Annabel Kershaw as Mother Larson
Tim Dixon as Father Larson, Owner of Larson's Flowers
Amber Warnat as Lisa Brown
Bill Finck as Minister
Janet Craig as Mourner
Edward Davey as Embalming Professor
Hamish Wilson as Gurney Goner, a Cadaver


MPAA: Rated R for aberrant sexuality and foul language.

Runtime
78 minutes

Release Date
Video: Apr 20, 1999

Resources:
IMDB entry
Rotten Tomatoes Review
Roger Ebert Chicago Sun-Tribune Review

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