I love the shiny and explosive spectacle of a good Summer blockbuster... well, maybe not TRANSFORMERS 2 but, generally, it's cool to see some great special effects, brutal fight scenes and hot chicks with very little left to the imagination. However, as you'll probably know by now if you have read many of my reviews, I also like a good little indie pic that's made with little more than a great idea, some directorial passion and a hefty dose of hard work. KISSES is one of those films, and it was a breath of fresh air. Set in the fair city of Dublin, Ireland, the film first introduces us to its protagonists: Dylan and his next-door-neighbour Kylie. A couple of young kids growing up in a rough area, they're more often bullied and beaten than they are loved and looked after. Gone are the wise-cracking middle-class kids that're so fashionable now, and in their places sit a boy and a girl who survive on an inner spark that slowly reveals itself in the adventure that unfolds. It all starts when Dylan's Da' comes home drunk again. It's just before Christmas and he's forgotten the fekkin' tree. Dylan's ma' is none too pleased and they start a blazing row that escalates until fists are ready to fly... that is, until Dylan steps in and smashes a glass on his Da's head. Realising what he's done, Dylan runs and locks himself in the bathroom but his Da' is soon back to his senses and banging on the door. Hearing the commotion, Kylie runs and grabs a ladder to help Dylan escape. It doesn't go quite to plan and they smash a window. Not wanting to deal with the ugly aftermath they steal money from Kylie's sister and run away onto the streets of Dublin. Here the story really comes to life. The gritty set-up is never fully abandoned as the children are faced with all sorts of nightmarish scenrios including being chased by the 'sack man' who wants to kidnap them, coming face-to-face with a corpse and having to steal food to survive. The gradual transitions between vivid scenes and colourless banality add wonders to what could otherwise be just another grainy, in-your-face drama. That's not to say it's all doom-and-gloom. The central themes of the film embrace moments of real hope in humanity that intersperse the dangers faced by the kids. A group of, mainly immigrant, Dubliners that are encountered really do their best to help the kids on their journey, and one young African's comment that she gives her man kisses because it's all she has to give is a great piece of emotional filmmaking. However it's probably outshone by the peak of the burgeoning romance between the youngsters themselves, and their on-screen chemistry makes all of the scenes that could descend into schmaltz somehow rise well above it into something much more palatable! To create a rounded experience, director Lance Daly makes a brilliant decision by not relying on hand-held close-ups to 'submerge you in their world' (or however you want to sell it) but actually showing some excellent innovation. Particularly impressive is the shot where Dylan clings to a car into which Kylie has been snatched, and is dragged around the streets of Dublin on his wheelie trainers (you know the ones I mean, with built-in wheels?). Anyway, it's a sight to behold!And the complete feel of the film gains a lot by realising that a one-dimensional shot repertoire does not mean being an auteur. It's exciting, sweet, gritty and generally just a joy to watch. What's more you'll be seeing something different to the normal cinematic fare. Do you need any more reasons to hunt this down?