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Film / Kiss the Girls

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Kiss the Girls is a 1997 psychological thriller film directed by Gary Fleder and starring Morgan Freeman as African-American psychologist Alex Cross, along with Ashley Judd, Cary Elwes, Tony Goldwyn, Jay O. Sanders, Bill Nunn, Jeremy Piven, and Brian Cox. It is an adaptation of the 1995 novel of the same name by James Patterson.

The main plot involves the parallel trails of action of two kidnappers, the "Casanova" of North Carolina and the "Gentleman Caller" of California. Both of them are "collectors" and responsible for the disappearances of numerous women, a few of whom are killed while the rest are held in long-term captivity for their abductors' sadomasochistic pleasure.

Cross gets involved when his niece Naomi (Gina Ravera) becomes the latest missing victim in North Carolina. He joins forces with Kate McTiernan (Judd), the only recent victim who managed to escape on her own. They have to find out how the two criminals are connected and discover their identities before more victims are taken.

This film provides examples of:

  • Alone with the Psycho: Inverted. Detective Ruskin is visiting Kate and reveals himself to be the serial rapist/killer just as Cross is putting the pieces together back at the station. The killer manages to cut the victim's phone line just before the other detective tries to call.
  • Anonymous Killer Narrator: The movie starts with a voiceover by Casanova explaining his first twisted "relationship".
  • Audible Sharpness: The sounds when William Rudolph pulls out his knife to put it on Naomi's throat.
  • Car Fu: Kate drives her car into the path of Will Rudolph's to stop him from escaping. He still manages to get away.
  • The Casanova: The main villain is actually named Casanova, a "collector" who builds a modern day harem of kidnapped women. Subverted since Kate's doctor points out that the bad guy obviously doesn't know his history, as the real Casanova would never have approved of his brutality toward women.
  • Cue the Billiard Shot: The second scene at the night club where Casanova picks up a new victim is kicked off by a billiard shot.
  • Cut Phone Lines: The killer does it when coming by Kate's house in the finale.
  • Defiant Captive: Kate is this. Her bravery helps her escape. It is mentioned that other defiant bunker girls were offed by Casanova as their strong-willedness triggered the Control Freak part in him.
  • Demoted to Extra: John Sampson is a major supporting character in the books and plays a major part in the latter half of the novel, but here he only shows up for a small portion of the film as a Friend on the Force and disappears as fast as he appeared.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: Chief Hatfield is seen smoking one during his meeting with Cross.
  • Dramatic Slip: Kate trips multiple times when escaping from the bunker. Justified as she was off-balanced by drugs put in her sandwich.
  • Dr. Jerk:
    • Dr. Wich Sachs is arrogant, smug, totally uncaring about the women in Casanova's custody, and taunts Cross about having sex with his niece.
    • Rudolph, the Gentleman Caller, is a plastic surgeon.
  • Evidence Dungeon: The freezer they find at Will Rudolph's place with the newspaper clippings and dismembered feet.
  • Evil Mentor: Casanova claims to have been one for Rudolph.
  • The Faceless: In the shot of Casanova sitting on his computer desk talking to his partner but we never get to see his face. Subverted at the end.
  • Friend on the Force: Several.
    • FBI Agent Craig is the one who let Cross on the case and helps him as much as possible.
    • Detective Nick Ruskin serves as one for the DPD, who, unlike Chief Hatfield and his partner, Detective Davey Sikes, is nothing but helpful and polite. Subverted when it turns out that Ruskin is Casanova.
    • Detective John Sampson is this for the WPD, helping Cross in his illegal operation to catch William Rudolph.
  • Groin Attack: How Kate disables the killer during the climactic kitchen fight.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Casanova does this with several women at once. The film's portrayal of Casanova stroking Kate's face and body while whispering in her ear really adds a major note of "creepy" to an already psychotic character.
  • I Work Alone: Cross doesn't want Kate to join him, but gives in after she insists.
  • Jump Scare: When Casanova kidnaps Kate from behind in her home.
  • Killer Cop: Casanova turns out to be Detective Nick Ruskin.
  • Mauve Shirt: Detective Henry Castillo, who gets quite a bit of characterization, but gets shot dead by the Gentleman Caller.
  • Malevolent Masked Man: Casanova wears a quite sinister white theatrical mask.
  • Nice Guy: Detective Nick Ruskin is the nicest member of the Durham Police Department, and is nothing but polite and courteous. Subverted when it turns out that he is Casanova.
  • No Escape but Down: During her escape from Casanova, Kate has to decide whether to leap off a 150 foot waterfall or be recaptured. She takes the jump and gets away.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Kate has only a few brief scenes of her work as a doctor.
  • Post-Rape Taunt: Done twice to Cross. First in the interrogation room by Dr. Sachs and then in the finale by Casanova, who taunts Cross about how he molested his kidnapped niece for ten days purely to press his Relative Button. The first time around Cross loses his cool and attacks Sachs, but in the second one, he maintains his calculating demeanor long enough to defuse the Taking You with Me situation.
  • Repeat Cut: When Cross shoots the killer at the end, the moment is shown at least three times from different angles.
  • The Scapegoat: Rudolph plants evidence that frames Dr. Sachs as Casanova.
  • Secret Squatter: The Anonymous Killer Narrator at the beginning reveals that "Casanova" lived in his first obsession, Coty's, house for an entire month, becoming sexually obsessed with her, her sister, and her mother, before raping and killing them all.
  • Serial Killer/Serial Rapist:
    • Casanova is a sexual sadist who kidnaps women and locks them up in an underground dungeon deep in the woods so he can rape them repeatedly. He kills the ones who break his "rules" by tying them to a tree to die of starvation and exposure.
    • William Rudolph is heavily implied to rape and then murder his victims.
  • Sex Slave: Casanova keeps them, and even uses a very old term for Ottoman harem women.
  • Softspoken Sadist: Casanova's voice is very deep and smooth. It's also incredibly unnerving.
  • Soft Water: Subverted. Desperate to escape from the killer, Kate jumps over a waterfall. She survives but is considerably banged up.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: At the climax of the film, the killer tries to rape Kate, who had escaped from his clutches earlier in the movie. Playing in the background is a raucous, upbeat version of the song "Irene Goodnight". This trope might even be played twice, as the lyrics, with allusions to murder and suicide, are far too dark for the manner in which the song is sung.
  • Surprise Vehicle: When going after Rudolph at the forest, Cross doesn't hear the truck onrushing on the road until he stands right in front of it.
  • Taking You with Me: Near the end, Casanova attacks Kate in her own house and tries to rape her, but she successfully fights him off. He tears out the gas tubes in her kitchen and grabs a lighter so he can off them both, but Cross arrives on the scene and manages to distract Casanova for long enough to kill him safely.
  • Talking Down the Suicidal: Cross does this early on to a woman who just shot her abusive partner.
  • Trap Door: Cross falls through one when pursuing Rudolph at the bunker.
  • Trophy Room: Rudolph's freezer has a feet collection.
  • Waking Up Elsewhere: When Kate wakes up after her kidnapping, she looks up to see her dreamcatcher hanging from the ceiling, but on further glance, the ceiling turns out not to be her home's.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Detective Castillo is in the film for all of ten minutes before Rudolph shoots him.
  • Whatever Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Detective Sampson disappears after taking the fall for the illegal attempt to capture Randolph.
    • Dr. Sachs is last seen in custody of the DPD, still believed to be Casanova.
  • Wicked Cultured: Dr. Sachs isn't evil per say, but still a massive jerkass. Rudolph and Casanova have shades of it as well.
  • Unbroken Vigil: Cross spends the whole night at Kate's bed at the hospital.