The Kissing Booth 3: A PrOdiGy in Narration


S A T I R E – P O P  C U L T U R E 


Shudipto Dip


Dear Diary,

For lack of mindless entertainment to dive in, I decided to jot down a few pointers on what makes the perfect cinematic experience, i.e., what I’ve dissected from the final installment of a widely acclaimed Netflix rom-com trilogy. So, here goes nothing.

Rule #1

Thicken your plot up

We’re living in the 21st century, man. A postmodernist culture movement is a necessity. This is the age of thought-provoking, intellectually demanding, and convoluted films like TENET. And other genres must adapt too! We are not troglodytes and simpletons to be getting satisfied with straight forward arcs. Even a 2 hour film has ample space to build up unforgettable character arcs and explore a wide range of character dynamics. It makes each character count. It makes us care about them overlooking their distractingly dashing looks (Jacob Elrodi though <3). Thus it helps us romanticise their complex personalities and hits us hard with the “mon theke valo” revelation.

It makes us less judgemental about the disgusting world we live in. This constant cat & mouse chase of a character growing up and us catching up is psychologically proven to be unfailingly appealing. It demands a strict attention from the audience, a tangled plot, and an ending montage worth reminiscing. And then there are sometimes specific gems that are demanding by nature, but can be effortless to process because of their masterful direction and writing. Imagine an Avengers: Infinity War of rom-coms. That’s how we adapt and thrive as a cinema loving race. Or else, certain genres will just be gone with the wind.

Rule #2

Make it inclusive, all encompassing

Now now, I’m not saying that some genres are faltering as they should. But mob flicks and revenge stories? They’re realistic? How many people can actually relate to that? Hard fantasy and science fiction franchises? Boo-hoo lifeless nerds!! Don’t even get me started on biopics. Film is about escaping from our mundane existence and living our fantasies as though they’re achievable dreams. Be the popular alpha and sigma all rounders. That’s the definition of true fantasy. Numerous genres squeezed into one art piece — there’s something for everyone! That’s real and entertaining. Magic realism — something very hard to pull off in rom-coms. But guess who did? Someone in my “Elle×Marco stanposting” Facebook page commented ‘Karen Joe-Hur’ or something. I watched his film. An honest effort. Didn’t quite live up to TKB3‘s mark though. Plus, they didn’t show a valid reason for not studying.

Rule #3

Understand your lead well

Characters are the heart of a story. And more often than not, it is hard for a character to outshine the movie itself and get remembered as a lifestyle icon. The character must be the living embodiment of perfection and realism at the same time. She must debunk myths like needing IQ or EQ to get into Ivy Leagues. She must be someone we all should aspire to be, and someone who reminds us that we all have to struggle with life choices too. That realism is what makes one resonate with the inner meaning of the film, and motivates one to take that baby step towards a success so grand, the choice is not even about us anymore. That’s how we evade insignificance to become that larger than life icon we fantasised about. Larger than life…yet caring for all life equally, not addressing priority — kinda like not seeing race.

This all-caring persona can be seen in the smallest of gestures, in the most uniquely intimate of ways; with different people we have different relationships with. Like Rule 1 of TKB trilogy: Only your best friend gets to know your birthday wish — it speaks volumes about our bond with our besties no matter how equally we prioritise everyone. A friend of mine deformed the rule to — Only the voice inside your head gets to understand your script characters. Idk if that’s supposed to be funny??? What does she know about screenwriting?

Rule #4

Downs complementing ups

Life is like Marco’s abs. It plummets, but inflates back up again. Now, if a character acts exactly how he or she is supposed to, that doesn’t drive the story forward. The character has to grow. S/he has to hit a rock bottom every time to go back to being exactly how s/he was before. Every-filler-character-must-have-an-issue!!! Some see forced conflicts. I see redemption. Being uncharacteristically toxic, shady, and jealous is exactly what we’d do after getting pushed to the edge. It puts those unrealistic Harvard guys from The Social Network to shame. It also addresses the inconsistencies from the previous movie to show how someone who Wattpadded her way into Harvard would react to situations. A redemption as a character, AND a franchise.

Rule #5

Tell, don’t show

One filmmaking rule I loathe is the ‘show, don’t tell’ policy, where they try to convey super simple messages with the slightest of change in camera angles, colour, and extras. And then defend it saying it’s sUbLimInaL. Do we have to pass film school to enjoy a movie? I’m not suggesting exposition is the solution. Sometimes, use cliches too. Like walking away angrily and packing stuff you don’t need to: to convey anger. Take lessons on overacting from outdated sitcoms or silent era films.

And there’s of course voiceover guides to inform us what exactly is going through their heads, making up for awkward silences. Take that, incessantly staring Ryan Gosling!

Rule #6

Ambiguity & Subtlety

Follow the footsteps of the greats! People say the best romantic films are always the heartbreaking ones. Well, I already explained how TKB franchise is a fantasy. But with the final installment, it transcends even that barrier too by giving an ambiguous (yet obvious) ending. It’s bittersweet, and it has a clear answer to its open ending. Films these days are just pretentious with their endings, thinking we’d rewatch those to see if Emma Stone smiling back at Gosling means something more.

Another instance of subtlety in TKB3 is the use of background song lyrics that are almost related to the scenarios. ‘Almost’ is the keyword here, as they provide another layer of explanation of the characters’ feelings.

Rule #7

Aesthetically pleasing

Sunsets and neons and beach houses and palm trees already make a film better. And who doesn’t love a good montage showing a bunch of things speedrunning? A montage before each fight, and at the end of each patch-up. Heck, make two montages before this fight! And add some occasional slo-mo to spice the cinematography up. Make some indiscernible clattering and jumping and use Kinemaster transitions we use for our friends’ birthday wishes — and voila! You can make a stagnant plot look like it’s moving full steam ahead! This dump of scintillating imagery sparks euphoria in our minds and motivates us to achieve this lifestyle. People who say the characters are horrible people and we are not supposed to learn from them — you missed the point!

 

At its heart, TKB3 is a film about love that comes in all character dynamics and sizes. It’s about compassion, finding your own position among people who try to mould your life their way. I noticed that this film explores the 5 stages of grief, but in a random order which is a very interesting take because it tells us our life is unpredictable, not bound by rules and stages. Though I’m not entirely sure they did it on purpose. But they’re a talented bunch. They probably did. Right? Right…?

TL;DR: Watched the film. Then bleached my eyes with the new Dune trailer. They should’ve just imported the rules from Fight Club and never talk about the existence of this film.

 


Shudipto is a replicant with the emotional range of a labradoodle.

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