Review: Kiss Me Before It Blows Up

Written and directed by Shirel Peleg, a subversive love story between clashing cultures and families, romantic misadventure crossing all borders. When two generations of Israeli women fall for a German woman and a Palestinian man, chaos follows. What happens with lovers who don’t fit but do belong together? Starring: Moran Rosenblatt, Luise Wolfram, Rivka Michaeli, Juliane Köhler, Bernhard Schütz, Irit Kaplan, Salim Dau, Eyal Shikratzi, Aviv Pinkas, John Carroll Lynch and Naama Amit.

Trying to blend a romcom with an exploration of decades long conflict was an interesting challenge to tackle. The most surprising element is that considering that challenge, it takes on quite a classically cheesy tone, akin to many romance films; it occasionally throws in the odd quirk but it never truly strays from its very sentimental atmosphere. However, the romance aspect is sincere and sweet, Shira and Maria’s connection is very fresh and honeymoon-esque, revelling in each other’s company and the story goes on much like this until Berta (Michaeli) arrives to throw a wrench in the works. What then follows dives into family strife and an attempt to reconcile two worlds, old and new, stepping into the arena of how do you change a mind that’s been conditioned for so many years to hate? It moves at a good pace and has something to say but plays it too safe and saccharine to really get their teeth into the very political nature of this story.

Peleg’s direction similarly fits a more typical romantic comedy style, it’s energetic and optimistic, continually moving with a rather alluring charm. It has a great use of colour which feeds directly into its high, consistent energy, it makes the most of its setting and everything that the streets of Tel Aviv have to offer. It doesn’t necessarily feel entirely unique, there’s a lot of familiarity in its style but it draws from influences that are effective and fitting for this feature.

Moran Rosenblatt and Luise Wolfram bring a strong charm to their characters and even more so in how their romance is genuinely touching, in a very positive and forward-moving manner. They’re so easy to watch and while at times that cheesy nature of the story may influence their performances, they’re very sweet and beguiling. Rivka Michaeli is wonderful as Berta, the stern but loving grandmother who would rather save face and pride than accept her emotions, it may not be the newest of character types but she does it with aplomb. She’s full of personality and strength and watching her eyes opened slowly by her granddaughter’s newfound relationship is moving. Lynch was a much more surprising addition to this cast but similar to Michaeli he brings a strong personality and conviction in a classic ‘father set in his ways’ character.

Kiss Me Before It Blows Up may not be able to truly blend a sincere story of romance and conflict into one but it does add an interesting new twist to an otherwise quite typical rom-com. It’s an admirable challenge that Peleg took on and she did exceptionally well to create something genuine, fun and layered, even in spite of a few flaws. It may not be everything you want it to be but it’s energetic, colourful, charming and full of strong personality.

Verdict: ✯✯✯½

Reviewed as part of BFI Flare

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