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  • In Search of a Midnight Kiss
    • In Search of a Midnight Kiss
    • Runtime:90 min
    • Release Date:2017-01-20 23:30:02
    • Director: Alex Holdridge
    • Genres: Comedy, Romance
    • Studio:
MOVIE REVIEW:In Search of a Midnight Kiss


*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The "Mumblecore" genre refers to a relatively recent wave of ultra low
budget films which explore relationships between young adults, utilise
16mm or digital cameras, and copy the styles of Cassavetes, Fassbinder,
Crowe, Linklater and Kevin Smith.

In an attempt to draw mainstream attention, most of these films hide a
rather saccharine, Hollywood plot beneath their gritty exteriors, and
"In Search Of A Midnight Kiss" is no different. Written and directed by
Alex Holdridge, the film follows a 29 year old guy called Wilson
(endearingly played by Scoot McNairy), a failed screenwriter whose
friends set him up on a blind date with Vivian (played with
vulnerability by Sara Simmonds), a failed actress.

Upon meeting Vivian, Wilson is initially put off by her rock hard
exterior. Their first encounter plays like an audition or business
meeting, Vivian quickly sizing Wilson up and then offering him 24 hours
with her. If they don't hit it off by then, they'll cut the ropes. No
questions asked. Wilson agrees.

Gradually, however, the external defences of both characters are broken
down. It becomes clear that they're both lonely, neither wanting to be
alone at midnight as its New Years Eve. And so we watch as they walk
and talk (shades of "Two Days In Paris", "Four Nights Of A Dreamer",
"In The City of Sylvia", "Before Sunset", "Before Sunrise" etc),
eavesdropping on their conversations and sharing their intimate

The film's surface romance is cute and engaging, Holdrige inserting
enough raunchy jokes to undercut any gooey sentimentality and enough
emotion to elevate the crassness. But it's the stuff behind the surface
plot that's more interesting. For example, the film is implicitly about
the romance of film-making and the pain of being stuck in the world of
low budget indies. Holdrige's film is subconsciously autobiographical,
romanticising theatre houses, cameras and his love for actresses, but
juggling these pleasures with a kind of grungy cynicism, the lowly
screenwriter stuck with a pregnant actress in an LA filled with
derelict theatre houses. Despite its grasps for mainstream attention,
this is a sad film about being resigned to the fate of the lowly
digital camera.

Which is why it is bizarre that every review of this film praises its
black and white photography. There are two versions of "In Search Of A
Midnight Kiss", one in supposedly "ugly" digital colour and one in
supposedly "beautiful" and "glossy" black-and-white, which reviewers
inappropriately compare to Woody Allen's "Manhattan". But the truth is,
it is the colour version of the film that is far more beautiful. The
digital footage looks poorly lit, grungy, flat, but conveys an
intimacy, a special ambiance, reality and rawness which the slick,
glossy black-and-white version, which was cynically calculated to
appeal to mainstream audiences and art house crowds, does not.

8/10 – Though too heavily indebted to Linklater (amongst others), the
film nevertheless works well. Note – stick to the colour release.
Sensualists like Mann and Lynch have proved the powers of digital.
Audiences need to catch up to digital's intimacy and stop avoiding it.

Worth one viewing.


To tell the truth I wasn't really expecting much from this indie
romantic comedy. Much in the line of other great indie movies like
"Clerks", "Before Sunrise" or "Walking and Talking" nothing much
happens in this movie apart from a lot of talking. Wilson (Scoot
McNairy), a scriptwriter going through a terrible patch in life, is
caught jerking off to his best friend's girl photoshopped picture. This
naturally is the newest low in his disastrously low last three months.
More entertained than mad his pal convinces Wilson to sign up to a
dating service as 'The Misanthrope' in an attempt to avoid him having
to spend New Year's alone. His first hit is Vivian (Sara Simmonds), a
Texan girl, who has just left her man and is out to dominate in an
attempt to have a fun night out. After a not-so-good initial meeting
the pair suddenly seem to start hitting it off… but will they last
till midnight and the midnight kiss? Funny, honest and filled with
those awkward moments that populate any real conversation this is a
refreshing change of pace from most American movies. There is
absolutely nothing to distract you from the picture in the shape of
cinematography (which is adequate and somewhat amateurish), music and
other such typical movie filler. Therefore the dialogues and
interaction of characters has to work in order for the movie to hit
home. Several times I felt the movie is close to falling off the edge,
but time after time it miraculously pounces back to make a heartwarming
and almost perfect finale. I must admire the script as a whole,
although not all of the conversations really seemed to work and some
scenes seemed forcibly overcooked.

Scoot McNairy almost singlehandedly keeps this picture together with a
commanding if reserved and exceptionally natural performance. The rest
of the cast is OKish with Sara Simmonds sometimes giving in a strong
performance, but multiple scenes she borders on being irritating and
unlikeable. Somehow even when in danger of that happening the director
with the aid of McNairy manages to put the movie back on track. And the
last 15 minutes or so are really poignant and make the whole experience
extremely worthwhile.


I'm not going to go through what the movie is all about as others will
do that far better, I only wish to describe the excellent Photography
in the movie. It's a contrasty Black and White movie but if you read
the reviews many don't even mention this or actually enjoy the B&W

The Director has used every trick in the still photographers book to
direct your eye where he wants them by the use of background lines /
settings and / or a myriad of other best practices . As the camera is
constantly on the 2 leads, this therefore makes the movie really about
2 people and luckily the actors are great so the movie works really

If you watch it with a photographers head on then it's all a little bit
over the top BUT at the end of the day the B&W and his settings along
with the urban environment adds to the film.( also the actual
photography portion in the film as the Director semi parodies himself.)
The Director has made this contrasty film work well – Watch it for
scenes and the touching story ( and the backgrounds ) – It's great.

Give yourself a treat and simply watch all the scenes to see how to use
the backgrounds to best effect.

Any still B&W Photographer will appreciate this film..


Alex Holdridge's film 'In Search of a Midnight Kiss' begins as the tale
of a loser going on a date with a beautiful, painfully hip, but
neurotic girl. This suggests a certain type of movie will follow; but
as he gains confidence, and her act slips, a balance grows between
them, they start flirting and the film soon starts to resemble Richard
Linklater's 'Before Sunrise' (in fact, the resemblance only grows the
longer the film lasts). In fact, I hated that film, but here, the
characters are less self-regarding and the film has genuinely funny
dialogue, coupled with interesting black and white photography, soppy
indie guitar music (regulation for this type of film, but nonetheless
effective) and a comic vision reminiscent of early Hal Hartley. If I
have one criticism, it's that the sentimental mood that gradually takes
the movie over possibly starts too soon; it's nicely done, but the film
is at it's best before it settles into this comfort zone. This doesn't
mean it isn't a humorous, romantic and artistic film.

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