“Kiss Me, Kill Me”
The Prime Suspect
I always look forward to a new film from Casper Andreas and I totally understand why. I have been reviewing his work since his short film about his grandmother’s visit and I have watched it mature into some of the very best LGBT films available today. I do remember once writing a somewhat tepid review about one of his films and he was upset with it and I understand why—I had not given it my full attention and I was wrong.
“Kiss Me, Kill Me” is a collaboration between Andreas and screenwriter David Michael Barrett. Dusty (Van Hansis) blacks out while confronting his cheating boyfriend Stephen, (Gale Harold). When Dusty comes to, Stephen was murdered and he’s the prime suspect. What I really love about this film is that the characters just happen to be gay and that is only a part of their composition. The plot is definitely more important than the sexuality of the characters.
Stephen Redding is a successful producer of reality television who while at his birthday party, his boyfriend, Dusty discovers that Stephen had an affair with Craigery (Matthew Ludwinski). Criaigery is a very popular and hot guy and the fact that his lover cheated with him humiliates and embarrasses him. Dusty leaves the party and goes to a convenience store with Stephen following him and trying to explain that Craigery was just a trick and is over. Suddenly there was a flash and Dusty blacks out, awakening to learn that both Stephen and the clerk are dead. Dusty knows that he has to find the murderer in order to clear his name. The film is at times outrageous but great fun.
When at the convenience store, gunshots are heard but it’s unclear what happens after that and this is a deliberate ambiguity. Technically, the film is wonderful and the cinematography is brilliant. It was shot on real locations and a tight and small budget. I am not going to summarize the plot because it would spoil the viewing experience. We never really know exactly how much time has transpired in this film. At some points it feels like it takes place over just a few days, while in others a few weeks. It doesn’t matter because we do not care because we are having so much fun watching and trying to understand the twists of the plot.
The story sends us in many directions and guessing until the end. Just when I thought I had it figured out…I was wrong and more than once. As the film progresses it moves from one crazy night to days of confusion and character play. It seemed obvious to the viewer that Dusty was not the killer but as the visuals unfolded that became a question again in everyone’s mind.
Unlike traditional film noir, the film portrays gay and transgender characters in a contemporary way. The characters are driven by grief, love and loss of a spouse. The film also depicts the circle of gay and lesbian friends that is more than just a stereotypical depiction. We also see a drag queen take off her makeup and give us the man beneath the make-up.
The film never takes itself too seriously either. Yet there is suspense, humor and accurate portrayals of the LGBT community in a re-imagined look at film noir.