Saturday, December 12, 2015
NAOMI & ELY'S NO KISS LIST (2015)
Directed By:Kristin Hanggi
Written By: Amy Andelson & Emily Meyer
Based On The Novel By: Rachel Cohn & David Leviathan
Cinematography By: Anka Malatynska
Editor: Michelle Harrison
Cast: Victoria Justice, Monique Coleman, Pierson Fode, Matthew Daddario, Maddie Corman
Incoming NYU freshmen and childhood neighbors Naomi and Ely have been in love with each other their whole lives, even though Ely isn't exactly into girls. The institution of a "No Kiss List" has prevented the two from rifts in the past, but their bond is tested when they both fall for the same guy. The once inseparable pair must figure out if their friendship is strong enough to get past such an epic predicament as they struggle with the realities of growing up.
I will state first of all I am a big fan of this book and of the books that author's David Leviathan and Rachel Cohn have written together and separately. They each have a kind of poetry to them. Though immersed more in a believable reality. So if reading through this is seem a little picky when it comes to the film. It is probably because I feel protective of the material. As it felt very special and touching when I read the book. So seeing it on screen. I was hoping it would reach the highs and lows of the book.
That is the problem with this film. It never feels real. It feels like everything is a performance. Which I could deal with if it didn't try so hard to be relate able and strike an emotional chord.
Yet instead it feels like every strand of the film aches to be quirky and worst of all also tries to put an original spin on things that make it seem more awkward and like it is constantly trying way too hard to look hip and be different. Yet is so transparent that you can't really take any of it seriously.
Playing more like an MTV pilot with an ending feather then a full-fledged film.
It rises the characters ages to college level. Yet the storyline seems more something for high school age students. As it is meaningful bit also trivial to a degree.
The camera and editing are all over the place I am guessing to show the erratic lives of these young characters. Just as I like to believe the acting is done in a more performance style because the characters are mostly acting through their lives. Not showing the real inner the. Out of fear of disapproval or feeling they have to keep up the act as they are afraid to face certain truths, about themselves and life.
I wish the film approached being that deep like the book. As this could have been something special and made a really well done teen film. For this generation. Instead of something that feels thrown together to capture on some kind of phase, fame or fad.
I will say the production design throughout the film is impressive.
Every aspect feels more like an idea than something that might logically happen.
The drummer in Gabriel's band wears a "Where's Fluffy" shirt. Where's Fluffy is the fictional band from Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, another book to movie adaptation by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan.
It also doesn't help that the guys who surround Victoria Justice in this film other then Pierson Fode who plays Ely are not that appealing nor look like her character would not only really consider them. She also seems to have no chemistry with any of them.
It feels like a film full of posers. As the characters I can understand being sensitive but while openly flirting it seems are kind of hard up and prudish when it comes to sex personally.
The film just comes off as very superficial. As it just seems too planned out and the characters never deep. Always very thin even when we are supposed to actually feel for them.
Also it is obvious how In love Naomi is with wit and as the film presents him as so smart. The fact he doesn't pick up on it and continues to kind of inspire it and remote this. As he seems to move on and find love or partners in his own. While she pines and seems to use guys as a time piece to pass the time she let isn't around. Yet intimacy with them scares her to death.
Which strangely the film seems similarly afraid of anything serious or intimate as that might mean that the camera would have to linger or not have a quick edit to cut to to liven up the material or scenes.
The appeal doesn't seem to be In the characters or their personality, but more in the fact that the leads are model perfect good looking. Which seems to make it ok when it comes to the validity of their characters. Which is easily explained away as youth. Again I read the book so I can feel the changes that don't seem to carry any depth. As well as that seems to be the only thing most characters see in them and compliment them about endlessly
Then again she could be secretly wishing Ely as the perfect boyfriend and might be able to break him. Another thing lost in translation is the fact that the film doesn't have the he said/she said factor in the chapters here it is more one sided. More her story. That kind of skews the film in her favor.
The central theme seems to be about growing up and growing apart from what and who is comfortable and finding your identity and your strength through that. While not necessarily a romantic film. This is a relationship film. -I would like to say the film also deals with the aspect of someone's life where they get tired of trying to live up to someone else's perception of beauty and how difficult it is to live that role. Especially when you barely know yourself to live up to someone else's ideal. Something you never asked for.
The betrayal comes as no surprise really as it is telegraphed and feels like a joke, almost as it seems like this is WILL & GRACE, the movie prequel. As Naomi seems to always be attracted to gay men and finally gets the guy who likes her who is straight.
Even the delivery of certain aspects of the characters seems not only flat but false as it delivers no passion. Especially for a seduction scene. It more seems like bland lines and extreme close ups. It could be argued that not many seduction scenes or dialogue between people is that extraordinary. Just built up in our minds as those memorable moments, but film while immersing itself in reality is supposedly a dream version of life.
Now while the film is probably deeper the. Your typical teen star vehicle. Victoria justice being a teen star of note who in any other era would be a young film star for coming off a popular teen show with a following. VICTORIOUS. Who is recognizable for a young audience though has not found fame I. Films though always found good material that just doesn't hit THE FIRST TIME and FUN SIZE just like those films this one has good Material that is better then the direction and film.
She is joined my Monique Coleman who co-starred In the HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL movies. So at least she has another actress who is recognizable as a teen star.
Ms. Justice is beautiful and has talent. She really tries but is let down by the direction as this is just a shallow exercise. Rather then a worthwhile project. As I can see what attracted her to the material and this should be the film that helped her breakout and gotten her better projects.
The character comes off as shallow and up until the third act it is hard to feel any sympathy for her. When her problems are spelled out by another character. Then and only For a few scenes do we see any depth as before and most of the film she is beyond feeling any sympathy for in her shallowness. And just when the film feels on the right track it seems to go for cliche. As her nerdy friend gets a makeover out of nowhere and she stays more true to her. If only out of lack of any others. She gains a romance. And everyone ends up happily ever after.
One element that doesn't help the film or it's characters is that at least I t he book we get to know or witness the characters depth through thoughts internal monologues. That are majorly absent throughout most of the film. Thought the characters and situations are easy to read. Those monologues at least added depth and a certain lyrical beauty to the story.
At least the film earns these moments after and hour of grand standing build up.