About Kissing

Let’s talk about kissing. Specifically, let’s talk about portrayals of kisses and what makes them good and what makes them bad (as in, your stomach turns and you throw up in your mouth a little.)

Let’s start with movies/TV (written portrayals in another post later this week). What makes a good video kiss? (We’re talking passion here, not friendship sorts of things). First, I think you have to feel an emotional connection between the two parties. For instance, creepy weird passion kissing between a 90 year old man and 13 year old girl could make you a little squicky. Not that I can recall seeing any of those, but there you go. The next thing is that a good kiss has to have some lip and jaw motion. The old black and white movie kisses where they actors close their eyes and smash together and hold still just doesn’t do it for me. I don’t require tongue, but I think some passionate movement of the face is necessary–it demonstrates the level emotion for me. That these people are truly feeling it.

Next, I think there has to be closed eyes. That they are committed to the moment of feeling and it’s overwhelming. Closed eyes don’t necessarily translate into that, but I think it’s a signifier for that level of passion. Next, they can’t be eating each other. Big wide open mouths with chewing motions are just . . . squicky. So there’s a balance–there must be lip and jaw motion, but not cannibalism. It’s a line folks, and not all that fine.

Next I think you have to have hands. Hands holding the back of the head or the neck or shoulders–like the person can’t bear to let the other get away or fears that s/he will. This always helps me believe in the passion and emotion. I also think you need both people to be using jaws, mouth, hands and their bodies. If one is sort of standing there passive–not a good kiss. Unconconvincing.

Be aware that the clips reveal the end of the movies, and the quality of the second is pretty bad. Also, spoilers.

There are a couple of specific examples of kisses I want to talk about now. First the bad. In Jane Austen’s Persuasion–the one with Rupert Penry-Jones and Sally Hawkins, she runs through Bath searching for him and the crowning moment of finding him is a kiss. Now, first they have a little conversation, then there is a close up of their faces, then hers. For a full 30 seconds, they focus on a closeup of her eyes, nose and lips as she comes closer and closer and closer. She looks . . . sick. Stupid. No passion. It makes me cringe. Bad bad bad kiss.

Now an example of a kiss I find evocative. This one is from Penelope, with Chrstina Ricci and James Mcavoy. At the end, after various tribulations, she visits him wearing a mask. He’s uncertain it is her and finally she let’s the cat out of the bag. As she walks by, he draws a breath to steady himself, then follows her quickly and grabs her and kisses her. She responds instantly. No tongue, but lots of hands, jaw and mouth movement and facial expression. Then he sort of pulls away and there’s some conversation/explanation, then there’s a moment where he reaches out as if he can resist and then he pulls her in for another kiss as if he’s a bit desperate.

The second one works because Mcavoy sells it, frankly. His body language and facial expressions and hands are emotional and desperate and full of passion. Ricci isn’t bad, but she not as good as he is.

Now I ask you. What do you need in a good video kiss? What makes it bad for you? What makes it good? What are some examples of the good and the bad and explain why. Come on, tell me about the kisses.


  • April

    Hahaha! That Kiss from Persuasion is almost notoriously bad. Any woman about to be kissed who can be likened to a fish with its mouth opening and closing is NOT very romantic!!!

    I’m sorry not to have any of my own examples of good kisses. I do agree with your examples, though. Stiff faces against faces or lip work with no hands or body language can’t possibly convey warmth much less passion. They’re rather like the other old joke of kissing–with one or the other saying, “Don’t mess the hair!” *Shudder!*

  • Di Francis

    I watched the end again of Six Days, Seven Nights and what a horrible horrible kiss! Total let down. It was a sort of a mash face. Blech.

    I’m so glad someone else has seen that awful Persuasion Kiss. It’s soooooo wrong.

  • Elle

    I think the notebook has a great example of a great kissing scene. I didn’t enjoy the movie so much but the actors have really good chemistry and they make the situation and story believable and even if you have a man you still just have to go “awwww” and smile. An awful kiss example would be between Maxwell Smart and Agent 23 in “Get Smart” sooooo akward ;).

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