Retro Movie Review: 'French Kiss' (1995)

French Kiss Movie Poster Meg Ryan Kevin Kline
Where has all of the romance gone? For the past ten years, quality romantic comedies have been hard, if not impossible, to come by. “French Kiss” serves as a time capsule to a better era. The year was 1995, and America’s sweetheart was Meg Ryan, the reigning queen of the rom-com genre.

Having seen many of her films, Meg Ryan has always projected the playful charm of a woman who does not let her social awkwardness hinder her self-confidence. It is this dichotomy that has comprised so much of her personal appeal. Her characterizations have always been something that a lot of women could identify with.

As endearing as most of Meg Ryan's comedies tends to be, the struggle is often securing a male presence that works well with her as a screen partner. One, screwy enough to not be the straight man, and calm enough to counterbalance her effervescent screen energy. In the mega-talented Kevin Kline, she definitely finds her match via “French Kiss.”

This is the best screen pairing that I can recall her having. Looking back, it was one of her career’s most significant missed opportunities that she and Kevin Kline, never re-collaborated. At least, shortly after, or a few times since.

They really seemed to feed off of each other’s energy in an extraordinary way. As a result, their “French Kiss” characters and their romance are actually worth rooting for. A not entirely common find in such fare.

Without Kevin Kline’s sensational performance as the dapper French con-man, “French Kiss” would not pack the same punch. Also of note is his French accent that is so spot-on, I had to double check his IMDb page (he’s from Minnesota).

An actor with a healthy combination of charm and the skill to disappear into a role is hard to come by, and Kevin Kline has that ability in spades. Having missed his on-screen presence in recent years, “French Kiss” is a welcome reminder of a time he got an ample display for his talent.

Personally, anytime a film takes viewers overseas, it is a treat. Watching the all-American Meg Ryan travel to France, and humorously explore the differences between the two cultures, works as a comedic element. Doing so, without going overboard.

Director Lawrence Kasdan keeps a sharp narrative voice throughout “French Kiss” and never lets a moment overstay its welcome. The beautiful cinematography captures all of the French joie de vivre and romance that composes the country’s iconic atmosphere.

The supporting cast is also magnificent. Jean Reno (“Leon: The Professional) and Francois Cluzet (“Little White Lies”) bring the French je ne sais quoi with their rabid charisma and comedic timing. Timothy Hutton (“Secret Window”) is also memorable as Ryan’s wayward fiancรฉ. The intimate number of cast members propels the film’s sleek and precision fueled pace.

Few films can simultaneously infuse the humor to sustain a comedy and the romance necessary to create a compelling love story. This movie succeeds in both of these goals. A romantic comedy, done well is a rare find, these days. Thankfully, “French Kiss” will always be there to remind us of how entertaining they can be when they are done right.

Rating: 8/10

[Featured Image by 20th Century Fox]