I like short films. I collect them like special-issue stamps on my hard drive because, like stamps, they are ephemeral, but some are worth preserving.
They get posted online and most disappear, forgotten. Mostly, that doesn’t matter. But occasional gems get lost.
Thankfully, Like a Kiss From Jesus is still up on Dailymotion after seven years. Given my penchant for short films and Coming-of-Age films in particular, I don’t know how I missed it when it was released. I only found it today and I think it’s one of the most profound and beautiful shorts I’ve ever seen.
A neglected boy on the cusp of adolescence awakes on his birthday. He takes breakfast alone before approaching his mother’s bedroom. Though not explicitly stated, my impression is that said mom is a sex worker. Whatever, she has a man with her who shows no interest in the boy and more interest in continuing whatever he was up to with his mother.
The theme of lovelessness is compounded when, rather than give her son the birthday present he requests, she gives him the money to buy one for himself.
God, that hooked me before the Coming-of-Age theme even got going! Films about dysfunctional families: gotta love ’em, right?
So, off he goes on his bike and buys himself the gift: a personal stereo (this film is clearly set in a pre-iPod era when Sony Walkmans [Walkmen?] were kewl). He gets it gift-wrapped. That simply broke my heart…
But enough of the spoilers. Suffice to say he heads for the beach and makes an encounter that awakens and changes his life.
Like a Kiss From Jesus is beautifully produced and directed. A short gem among so much paste out there. Innocence is counterpoised with loveless sex. Loveless sex counterpoised with innocent sexual awakening. Terrific performances from the boy and girl who carry it.
I can’t comment further without giving the game away. Maybe it won’t be for everyone, but I haven’t felt so moved by a short piece of independent cinema for a long time. And it’s there for the viewing. Go watch, peeps.