This slight, if sensitive examination of Irish childhood is tough and sweet and takes place on Christmas.
Lance Daly's modest, yet moving Kisses stars Shane Curry and Kelly O'Neill.
It takes place in and around Dublin as Curry's Dylan and O'Neill's Kylie will join up for a little odyssey. One gets a raw pre-adolescent perspective when it comes to Kylie dealing with her unsavory uncle. And, Dylan's lip is split as his dad (Paul Roe) raises his hands on his mum (Neili Conroy).
They split the shabby, tumbly suburbs for the big city with the help of a barge-driver (David Bendito) down the canal. Once there, an unnerving peril is still felt though some light-hearted, more surreal filter in along with color (see the buzzing neon sign) on the palette from a more grim, monochromatic opening.
Some looking for a more conventional narrative might feel shrifted as Kisses unfolds with more nomadic, fly-on-the-wall artistry considering its authentic gritty look and restive mood. It extends to newcomers cast from schools like Curry and O'Neill who paint their characters with pensive, ardent, and intrepid strokes to go along with some peppery conversations.
One realizes like Kylie and Dylan (their names sound like they're musicians) where the adventures will finally lead, but there are some interesting run-ins, including a troubadour type a nice cameo for Stephen Rea. Also, the city itself reflects a new side as a melting pot of sorts, not for hearing those often thick brogues.
Kisses is a vivid, sure-handed cinematic snapshot that looks beyond the damp rubbish piled in yards and low-lifes on view suggesting that the underside for underagers has an oddly graceful upside. Even if it doesn't quite build to as potent a conclusion as its two unknown leads.