Sunday, March 28, 2021


Writer-director Shirel Peleg's debut feature KISS ME BEFORE IT BLOWS UP is a hilarious and spiky romantic comedy about the unlikeliest of lesbian lovers.  Maria (Luise Wolfram) is a reserved German botanist whose earnest parents are all for peace and love and are liable to start crying at their inherited guilt over the Holocaust. Meanwhile Shira (Moran Rosenblatt - FAUDA) is an extrovert Israeli with a similarly supportive but stridently opinionated large family. The events of the film take place over a week or so in Israel as Maria is introduced to her fiancee's family, and soon her parents arrive too.

One of the joys of this film is that both families are completely supportive of their daughters being gay and wanting to marry. The issues come from the prejudices they carry outside of homophobia - whether the Israeli grandma holocaust survivor (Rivka Michaeli) who wants her daughter to marry an Israeli - but at the same time hides her relationship with an Arab man - to the American Jewish father (John Carroll Lynch - ZODIAC) who has the zeal of the convert and wants Maria to convert to Judaism so his grandchild will be Jewish - or the German parents aghast at the fact that their soon to be daughter-in-law's little sister is in the Israeli army, because they believe in peace and the two-state solution.

What I love about this film is that it never shies away from the real prejudices and obstacles facing a young couple who are deeply in love. The truism is that when you marry you also marry the family and no matter how far Shira tries to shelter Maria from the complications they are always going to be there - captured for posterity by her aspiring film-maker kid brother. The question is whether Maria is willing to accept it all because truly, they are meant for each other.

There were occasions when the script was a little too on the nose - a final scene on the Green Line comes to mind - but overall this is a really tightly scripted, brave, hilarious film that makes you laugh but also softens your heart with a really convincing depiction of love - whether between Shira and Maria - or between Shira and her siblings - or the crazy extended family. I had a really good time with it and can't wait to see what Shirel Peleg does next.

KISS ME BEFORE IT BLOWS UP has a running time of 101 minutes. It is not yet rated. The film opened in Germany last year and played BFI Flare 2021.

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