Pretend We’re Kissing – Summary/ Review (with Spoilers)

Pretend We’re Kissing is perhaps the realest romance movie dealing with an introvert male I have ever seen. Especially one paired with an extrovert girl. Summary Benny (Dov Tiefenbach) is an introverted young man with his own design company. One which, so it seems, has no employees but him. So outside of whatever contact he…


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Jordan (Tommie-Amber Pirie) in Pretend We're Kissing

Pretend We’re Kissing is perhaps the realest romance movie dealing with an introvert male I have ever seen. Especially one paired with an extrovert girl.

Summary

Benny (Dov Tiefenbach) is an introverted young man with his own design company. One which, so it seems, has no employees but him. So outside of whatever contact he has with the band’s representative, he is usually by himself. Well, outside of his long term roommate [note]Mooch[/note] Autumn (Zoe Kravitz). Someone who has enough issues to fill her own story. But for Pretend We’re Kissing, consider her the extrovert that adopted Benny and pushes him to live.

Which perhaps helps when Jordan (Tommie-Amber Pirie) approaches him. She is a girl he saw at a concert and later sees him and asks him out. Thus giving us the main part of the story which is Benny trying to act like a bit more extroverted. Yet, in the process of trying to seem cool and all that, not lose himself. Giving us perhaps one of the most legit romance movies about dating. Especially if you are an introverted guy.

Collected Quote(s)

Coincidence changes your day and fate changes your life.

Bravery isn’t the absence of fear. It means you know you’re afraid, and you’re scared and you’re fucking nervous and terrified, but you go ahead and do it anyway.

Highlights

It Contains The True Awkwardness of Dating

Nevermind the fact Benny is so in his head that he has back and forth dialog, Jordan is kind of odd too. Making their scenes together have that type of awkwardness which creates authenticity. Let’s take the sex scene in the movie. Between Benny perhaps coming too quick for Jordan to get off, him going too fast, her almost falling off the bed, and etc, there was a sense of realism. All the while, it wasn’t used for some comic effect like “Look how bad Benny is in bed!” it was to show what really happens at times.

Benny (Dov Tiefenbach) & Jordan (Tommie-Amber Pirie) in Pretend We're Kissing

Though I should also note, referring to the sex, how good it was to see her have condoms, talk about them, and mention during the sex how she wanted things. For while this isn’t some big budget movie, it is always cool to see the female lead have some command over her pleasure. Especially when paired with a nerdy guy for, more often than not, when there is a nerdy dude paired with a cute girl, she almost seems like a pure fantasy.

But, to also present something non-sexual, just figuring out the right thing to say, or omit, is also a challenge. For Benny, it is how to not be weird, nor push Jordan away. Yet, at the same time, present who he really is. Versus what we get in a lot of comedies where he either pretends to be who he wants to be or who he thinks she wants. Then with Jordan, the awkwardness comes from her getting out of a heavy relationship and trying to figure out what she wants. So that, in the long run, she isn’t repaying kindness or loyalty but is with someone because they excite her. You know?

Benny is Not Your Hollywood Introvert

Lily (Loretta Yu) & Benny (Dov Tiefenbach) in Pretend We're Kissing

There is just something about how shy guys are often written which bothers me. On top of that, how guys who don’t look like every girls’, or guys’ crush in high school. They are often written to be so socially inept that you wonder how they function in life. Making it so, when they do put in an effort, it is anywhere from slapstick comedy to the kind you’d picture Michael Cera in. With Benny though, focusing on him outside of his relationship with Jordan, he doesn’t fit those tropes.

Through him letting Autumn live with him, much less mooch, we can see he is a nice guy. If not someone who is open to showing kindness, even if they are just a long lost childhood friend. Then, based off him going to concerts and even interacting with the girl at the corner store, it shows he can be sociable or in social spaces. It is just, he doesn’t look at everyone as an opportunity for conversation. Which I feel is so rare to see. A true introvert and not someone that can be written off as someone who is simply anti being social. Much less, someone whose eccentricities aren’t made to set up a joke.

Criticism

Kravitz Seems Like a Token

Autumn (Zoe Kravitz) and Benny (Dov Tiefenbach) in Pretend We're Kissing
This can be considered PG-13 right?

In Canada, where this was filmed, to get certain tax credits there is a diversity quota. This applies to The Handmaid’s Tale, and also to Pretend We’re Kissing. Hence why I assume, alongside star power, Kravitz is in this film. Which, mind you, isn’t to say Autumn didn’t have potential. I mean, at first, I figured she was imaginary. Especially since she claims to have Agoraphobia and no one, not even Jordan, gets to meet her. However, once it was clear that Autumn wasn’t a made up voice in Benny’s head, I didn’t get her purpose. Well, besides having Kravitz’s name attached to the film and to use her for financing/ advertising.

For, honestly, between her considering herself a nudist [note]Thus being naked on screen[/note] and the rest of the nonsense, I was left trying to figure what did Kravitz get out of this deal?

On The Fence

Jordan

Jordan (Tommie-Amber Pirie) in Pretend We're Kissing

 

While I like Jordan, there is just something about her that gives me pause. I think it stems from the fact we don’t learn what she does for work, what are her dreams, or anything like that. We learn about the situation with her ex, that her mom died, and that she is generally a nice person. Which I feel like it presented as just enough information to know something about her. But perhaps what makes the Jordan thing worse is Benny goes to her house. In said house, there is all this art, writing, and more, but he asks no questions about it. The one chance we could have really gotten to know something beyond the pseudo-superficial is sidestepped.

Overall: Positive (Worth Seeing)

Benny (Dov Tiefenbach) & Jordan (Tommie-Amber Pirie) talking in Pretend We're Kissing, talking in the rain.

While Kravitz plays another token character and Jordan has just enough development to avoid serious scrutiny, Pretend We’re Kissing remains very likable. Mostly because it doesn’t approach Benny like a lot of romantic or romantic comedies do. He isn’t treated as this guy who either has nothing to offer a girl besides his time or because he isn’t Hollywood attractive, he is treated as if he is ugly.  He is just a normal and everyday guy who would like to be with someone but overthinks things. So, because of that, he is single.

Then when it comes to him dating, we thankfully don’t watch him try to be someone else. He instead remains his awkward self but tries to make that person more lovable. Perhaps better said, more open to the point someone would like to get to know him better. On top of that, when it comes to the awkwardness of conversation and sex with him, it isn’t treated as a joke. It’s very much like growing pains. Like learning to not talk about exes during a date, having a proper stroke game, and not making it seem like cunnilingus is to compensate for bad stroke game.

Thus leading to why this is rated as something positive. This film found a middle ground. It knows how to present a realistic romance and keep it interesting without making either lead a butt of jokes. Alongside that, it knows how to keep things interesting enough so that you aren’t lulled into indifference. So while it does have a few dings due to tokenism and the possible lack of development when it comes to Jordan, the heart of the film beats strong. Strong enough that you can forgive its shortcomings in abundance.


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