Weird and wacky Australian film noir, Burning Kiss is a psychedelic whodunnit in reverse. We know who committed the crime, but a disgraced former detective concocts a story to make himself look like a hero.
It’s been six years since a hit-and-run incident put ex-cop Edmond Bloom (Richard Mellick) in a wheelchair and took the life of his wife Juliette. With the culprit never identified, Edmond spends his days poring over clues under the care of his daughter Charlotte (Alyson Walker). On a hot summer’s day, a remorseful stranger – Max Woods (Liam Graham) – appears. He claims to be the driver of the car, and begs Edmond for forgiveness or punishment.
Consumed by guilt, Woods brings all the clues necessary to bring himself to justice. They include a necklace stolen from Juliette’s body, number plates and the location of the vehicle involved. With Woods surrendering himself, Edmond can now find the closure he needs by either turning him over to the police, forgiving him or simply shooting him dead. However, none of these three choices seem to satisfy Edmond. Since the accident, his dream has not only been to see the killer apprehended, but to catch him himself and bring him to justice.
Woods becomes a prisoner in Edmond’s home, while the other prisoner in the house – Charlotte – struggles with a different history.
Burning Kiss is mindless nonsense, far too caught up in its hare-brained convolutions. Flashes of nightmarish visions frequently punctuate the narrative. It’s deliberately obtuse and very difficult to follow. Snippets are revealed, but we still have to try to piece it all together, which is neither easy nor enjoyable. The acting – by and large – is heavy handed (like the script).
Burning Kiss is not worthy of cinematic release, which was its intent (admittedly on a limited basis) before coronavirus bit. Writer and first-time feature film director Robbie Studsor may have doffed his hat to memorable stylistic films, but in my eyes he’s crafted a barely watchable mess.
Burning Kiss is available on Apple TV, Fetch, Google Play and YouTube.
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Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.