Valentine’s Day looms and many singles might find themselves feeling nostalgia for “the one that got away”. Folk wisdom says that if you set a person free and they return to you it’s true love. Maybe. If a particular person was meant to be they would never have left in the first place.
The concept of reuniting with your first real true love from childhood is not new. It’s a theme that has been examined in many stories throughout the centuries. Every few years Hollywood gives us a new rendition of the same formula: love lost, love restored.
Recently, I came across a book by Dr. Nancy Kalish about this very phenomenon of first love reunions. Sometimes these moments are happy endings but often they are not. When a lost love returns it can wreak havoc in the lives of both people and their immediate families. Love is a form of temporary psychosis or mania that ruins all hope of exercising one’s better judgment. The film “One More Kiss” is a cautionary tale about this very phenomenon. Produced in 1999, this Scottish drama examines the perils of not letting go of a past love.
Just because someone is no longer physically present in your life their presence can still linger. Never underestimate the potency of intense memories and the even more lethal emotions that accompany them. Our brain records experiences in a permanent code as it stores recollections in our long-term memory. Very traumatic personal events, such as the end of a love relationship, are especially scarring to our psyche.
A first love is a peculiar thing. Most people never love so innocently and completely another person as they do their first love. Part of this is because our adolescent brains and short time on earth is not yet jaded enough to guard against disappointment. When you fall in love for the first time it’s like an emotional blank slate. Usually the first object of our affections easily becomes a template for the rest. Your first love is your initiation into the dance of intimacy, desire, and connection. If no flame burns hotter than a first love then its scorching hell for one’s mental health when that love goes away.
“One More Kiss” is the story of Sam and Sara. The childhood sweethearts grew up together in Scotland and were a perfect match. Sam’s dreams of growing old with Sara are destroyed when she moves to New York to pursue her career ambitions.
From the plot it appears that Sam was too afraid to join Sara in America or insist she stay in Scotland. Both of their choices eventually do them in. Sara ends up a lonely workaholic in New York who develops a fatal illness. Sam marries Charlotte and opens a restaurant in their hometown. Sam and his wife are business and life partners who are comfortable in their domestic partnership. We first see them in the daily grind of making a living and life together. Just before Sara’s shocking announcement we see Sam giving Charlotte foot massages after a long day’s night. They are content until a knock on the door from Sara breaks the harmony of their marriage. Sam’s lost and found love asks for time with Sam because she has terminal brain cancer. Charlotte is pushed into a corner because a dying woman is making a last request. Charlotte agrees to allow Sam to spend time with Sara and it ends her marriage.
Bonds break slowly or not at all. “One More Kiss” exposes that there is no such thing as time healing old wounds. It’s a myth that finding someone else will erase the memory and emotions invested in another. Wrong. Love is a many determined thing. As Sam takes Sara on her many last adventures on earth he realizes she is still his one and only. Where does that leave his wife Charlotte? Frozen out of her own husband’s heart. If that isn’t tragic what is?
“One More Kiss” explored the dark side of lost first love reunion without resorting to melodrama or cliché. When Sara finally dies and Charlotte divorces Sam there are many unanswered questions. Does Sam go love crazy after losing his lifelong love again and for good? Does Charlotte go through with the divorce? How does Sara’s father Frank cope with being a widower whose daughter died before him? Was Sara nothing more than a narcissist who didn’t ever really want Sam except as her companion when it was convenient? Did Sam and Sara ever have a chance had they not been separated by the Atlantic Ocean? So many questions linger after watching “One More Kiss”. One thing is clear …. A lost first true love reunion is a Pandora’s Box.