Strangers Kiss 2.0 stars

Life imitates art, even in Fifties Hollywood: here it's the leading man and leading lady of a low-budget boxing melodrama whose off-screen relationship takes uncannily after their on-screen one. The film-within-the-film, and presumably the title of the film-without, is modelled on Stanley Kubrick's Killer's Kiss, and the parallels of this film to that other prove to be of far more interest than the internal parallels. Strangers Kiss is, to be sure, a cut above the film-within-the-film, and the lowness of the latter is the source of considerable good fun ("Farris, prepare the boxing sequence! I want the low angles!"). It is even a cut above Killer's Kiss, although the film-within, on ample evidence, is most certainly not. We know from wide experience, however, that directors every bit as big-headed as the fictional director here (Peter Coyote), working in equally tight straits, turned out far more enduring work than Killer's Kiss. The mocking attitude of this film toward its film-within, while productive of some nice chuckles, is perhaps the most regrettable of its many modesties. With Blaine Novak and Victoria Tennant; co-written by Novak and Matthew Chapman; directed by Chapman. 1984.

Duncan Shepherd

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