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A Kiss for Jed

A friendly peck on the cheek - ★★½

Barry Devlin of Horslips fame has teamed up with director Maurice Linnane to bring us a love story between two very unlikely characters.

Mark O’Halloran plays Ray the unfortunate cameraman who must follow Orla (Jayne Wisener) around New York in search of country and western star Jed Wood for the sole purpose of obtaining a kiss. In New York they are accompanied by Mike (Lee Arenberg), their sound man who learnt his trade on many an adult movie and who observant Seinfeld fans will surely recognise. The rest of the film plays out over three or four days as they search in vain for Jed with Ray and Orla becoming more inclined to one another.

The film was originally called A Kiss for Jed Wood, with the “Wood” being dropped since its original production. I couldn’t help but wonder if “Jed Wood” sounded too close to “Jedward”, definitely for Irish audiences anyway. Jedward’s target audience would probably find the film quite enjoyable which is its main problem, it’s very juvenile. The love story that develops between Ray and Orla is not believable, she is only 19 where as Ray could be anywhere from early 30s to late 40s. Now while it is by no means Lolita territory, it’s too close to the creepy side to be believable. The film-makers are aware of this themselves and do not delve into the physicality of a relationship, instead examining the emotions contained within.

Initially Jayne Wisener does an excellent job of making us hate her, meaning we side totally with Ray. She gives good depth to the character, eager to cast off the prying eyes of her minders and is self aware enough to realise what is transpiring between her and Ray. Mark O’Halloran is faultless as always, we sympathise with his stupidly in trying to protect Orla and realise, as Ray does, the futility of his desires. With all his failings and misguided emotion we can’t help but sympathise with him. Lee Arenberg is brilliant as the straight talking sound man and the friendship that develops between him and Ray is enjoyable and certainly provides the most laughs in the film, akin to Humphrey Bogart and Claude Rains’ characters in Casablanca.

The film also has a radio DJ played by Jay Thomas who acts as the film’s narrator in a sense. It’s a novel enough take on the need for a narrator, but it doesn’t work as the inclusion of him merely adds another feather to the ridiculous cap. I got the impression that if you were in a bad mood going to see this that there isn’t enough here to pull you back, with the likely outcome being to tip you into cynic overdrive. However there is a scene towards the end, which I obviously won’t talk about, that saves it. With this one scene the whole relationship dynamic of the film is summed up and you feel the director, writer or whoever knows the underlying fault with the film and rescues it from total failure.

Won’t set your heart ablaze but has enough for the odd wry smile and knowing laugh.

Ireland, USA  /  Directed By: Maurice Linnane  /  Written By: Barry Devlin, Maurice Linnane  /  Starring:  Neville Archambault, Lee Arenberg, Mark O’Halloran and Anthony Atamanuik  /  86min  /   Comedy   /  Release: 18 May 2012 (Irl)