I've been waiting months to write about about the indy film In Search of a Midnight Kiss.
I saw this no-budget romantic comedy at the AFI Film Festival late last year. It's been in wide release in the U.K. for the past several months and is now playing at selected theaters across the U.S. You can also apparently watch it via pay-per-view via distributor IFC but I haven't confirmed that yet.
Midnight Kiss is a comedy-drama about two strangers (Scoot McNairy and Sara Simmonds) who take a chance on a blind New Year's Eve date. They walk around Los Angeles and talk and get to know each other. By the end of the night, several layers of thick armor have fallen away and they have a big decision to make. It's narratively simple -- one might even say formulaic -- but this is an emotionally rich love story and at times it's pretty fucking funny. Writer/director Alex Holdridge's steady hand and strong cast keep this from being just another irony-laden wisecracking hipster indie flick
As I learned during the talkback at last year's screening, all of the people involved spent years trying to land work in the Hollywood studio system. This scrappy clutch of friends moved to Los Angeles from Texas, auditioned like crazy, pulled strings to get meetings, worked crappy jobs and pitched projects to anybody who'd give them the time of day. Nothing happened.
The old canard says that Hollywood doesn't crush anybody, people just give up. Out of sheer frustration, they picked up an affordable HD camera and made their own movie. Holdridge wrote a resourceful script based on what they had available (tiny apartments, clunker cars, threadbare wardrobes, etc.) and what they hoped they could steal (fantastic LA locations that, thanks to their small camera and crew, they could shoot while avoiding the permit police). The foolhardy project cost a few grand and took a couple of weeks ... but at the end, they made a damn movie.
None of that would matter much if the movie wasn't any good, but it is. It's got a funny script, terrific performances, and some beautiful cinematography (it's digital black-and-white, but damned if it doesn't look like film).
Midnight Kiss isn't the best movie you'll ever see but it's got heart and soul in spades. It's about likeable but damaged people trying to connect in a sun-blasted, dream-crushing city. I'm not the biggest fan of rom-coms but I found In Search of a Midnight Kiss unexpectedly moving and, on multiple levels, hugely inspiring.
See it any way you can.