Mia (Jodie Whittaker) has just collected her mother’s effects from the hospice in which she died. She throws them away and then arrives at her apartment building to find an identical box waiting for her. Straight afterwards, Mia is out on the street and an elderly lady throws herself out of an upper window, to her death. The lady has a photograph of a man (Ludwig – Dougray Scott) from Mia’s past and then the mysterious caretaker (David Warner) tells her that she needs to put things right, by travelling back in time (using an enchanted elevator). She moves back through her life and her various encounters with the abusive, possibly sociopathic Ludwig, trying to keep him from becoming involved in and destroying her life.
An unusual mix of high concept and human drama (and in that respect sharing some DNA with Sliding Doors), A Thousand Kisses Deep has an intriguing premise but unfortunately does not always know what to do with it, or exactly how to carry it through consistently. Too many moments make the audience go, “yeah, but what about…?” and it damages the impact of what is otherwise an engaging dramatic story. The characters are generally well written, especially Mia and the appalling Ludwig, but David Warner’s enigmatic caretaker grates with the tone of the rest of the film, which is already threatening to collapse under the weight of its incongruous mix of abusive relationships and time travel.
Dougray Scott seems to be enjoying himself playing such an utter, utter horror of a human being and real care has been taken with the screenplay as we see how far back into Mia’s life Ludwig’s cancerous reach extends. But when we see the “modern day” Mia interacting with Ludwig of a decade ago and also her younger self, it becomes incomprehensible that neither of them would take one look at her and say, “erm, you’re Mia”. It may seem excessive to suggest that such moments are serious enough to derail the whole film, but they really do. The film never finds a way to explain or work around these sorts of issues, including how she makes her way back to “the real world” after her work is done.
All of which is a shame, as the film has a lot of good ideas and some impressive plot developments later on. The overall effect would have been better had it been able to marry these to a steadier narrative. A bit of a mess in some respects, but worth checking out for its stronger elements, just go in expecting to be a bit annoyed and frustrated as well. A Thousand Kisses Deep is on release now in selected cinemas.