One of the greatest things about renting loads of random movies that you have never seen or that you may have purposely skipped, is when you land one that ends up taking you by surprise. Whether it is just that good or features a stunning acting performance, or whatever, it is the sort of thing avid movie watchers cherish the art for. Enter my renting of: The Last Kiss.

Directed by Tony Goldwyn, that evil actor from 1990’s Ghost with Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze, the screenplay is by Paul “Best Picture for Crash” Haggis. The cast is lead by Zach Braff and Jacinda Barrett, with amazing support from the likes of: Casey Affleck, Rachel Bilson, Michael Weston, Eric Christian Olsen, Blythe Danner, and Tom Wilkinson. The story these people came together to tell is a branching one about people and relationships, yet with a main focus on Braff’s character and his terror in facing the ultimate commitment of marrying his pregnant and perfect girlfriend.

First and foremost: Jacinda Barrett’s performance is what took me by surprise.  She was phenomenal in the role, which could have and possibly would have been a connect the dots formula sort of thing for other actresses. She brought passion and flair to the project and just really nailed it for me. She plays a woman who thinks she knows men, specifically her boyfriend played by Braff, and then runs the gamut of emotions when reality hits the fan for everyone. An award worthy portrayal, kudos to her.

The movie itself was excellent up until the hour and twenty minute mark, at that point it was dragging and Goldwyn and Haggis seemed to be treading on all too familiar ground, even using the go to music cues to try and heighten emotion that was already peaking. I mention Haggis in this aspect along with the director because fans of Crash and films like Magnolia will recognize the certain sound of a female singer making a career off of the ends of these films. Beautiful music, but too much at the wrong time this time.

All of the actors and characters are interesting and engaging. Every single one of them lights up on the screen and kept my attention like a moth being wooed by the bug zapper…except for Zach Braff. It took a long while to accept him in his role, and even when he was pulling off certain scenes it was still hard. In the first half of the film he was the only problem I could point out. Sure he has done drama before with Garden State, but this is a bit darker a league and his face just screams: SCRUBS!!  He does man up for a sex scene though that was fairly hot, though Bilson mysteriously seems to be missing the nipples on her boobs.  Braff fans will be lured into renting this thinking it to be a quirky romantic comedy, but it is far from that. It is an often saddening exploration of adult relationships and the hurts involved with love and life and making it work.

Complete with nudity and more drama than you can shake a stick at The Last Kiss is probably not what most people would expect, it becomes a drag by the end, making even happy moments almost depressing, however it shines with the surprise of Barrett’s performance and some deep story.