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Ryan, Kline make a fine comic pair in French Kiss

French Kiss.

Directed by Lawrence Kasdan.

Written by Adam Brooks.

Starring Meg Ryan, Kevin Kline, Timothy Hutton, and Susan Anbeh.

Sony Cheri.

By Jimmy Wong
Managing Editor

The deluge of romantic comedies in the past year may turn some filmgoers off to French Kiss. This genre has become so common that many have simply lost interest. Don't make the same mistake - French Kiss is an excellent movie with a strong cast and well-crafted humor. A talented performance by Kevin Kline, as well as an exceptional performance by Meg Ryan, makes this film as entertaining as the quick, witty romantic comedies of old.

The story begins as Kate (Meg Ryan) chases her fickle fiancé Charlie (Timothy Hutton) to Paris to win him back from a beautiful French woman (Susan Anbeh). On the plane trip, she encounters a mysterious Frenchman named Luc (Kevin Kline), who immediately cures her fear of flying. Luc, however, is not all that he appears to be. He offers to help Kate win back her fiancé only so he can recover a necklace which he has hidden in her bag.

Both characters transform as the plot develops. As Luc challenges Kate to rethink her life, she gradually becomes less fearful and more confident - even the man who abandoned her hardly recognizes her after a reunion. Luc's growth in integrity parallels Kate's growth in capability. He becomes much more than just a likable thief. Underneath his booming French accent is a genuine and honest voice.

Kate is determined to win her fiancé back despite the changes she has undergone. Luc sincerely wishes to help her in any way he can. He pretends to be Kate's new love interest in order to make Charlie jealous. It works - Charlie is fascinated by the new Kate and wants her back in his life. At the same time, Luc appears content to let Kate return home.

Both Kline and Ryan are veteran performers who execute punchlines flawlessly. Kline's French accent is convincing, or if you do not speak the language. The humor in his character derives from his exceptional stereotyping of the rude Frenchman. His mustache and half-shaven face may initially prevent people from connecting him to his 1993 hit Dave, but the strength of his performance gets by on personality, not appearance.

Fans of Ryan will not be disappointed either, especially those who liked her in Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally. Her simple charm and spirited style once again demonstrate why her name is synonymous with this genre of light romance. She is successful both as the emotionally distraught woman whose fiancé has left her and the strong woman who finally decides that she wants something different for her life.

French Kiss is not meant to be a sweeping epic or a scholarly work. Instead, the film is a pleasant diversion concerning destiny and true love - and it also shows why Meg Ryan continues to define the genre.