Body Language Expert Reveals The Worst Kissing Scenes In Film

Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is coming this weekend. And with all the usual options off the cards for most of us (thank you, coronavirus) it looks like a movie night in is one of your best options the big romantic day.

This got the team at Casino.org chatting about romantic movies, as well
as iconic kissing scenes that make us swoon – and the ones that make us cringe.
What is it about watching characters with zero real connection that makes us
curl our toes?

We wanted to analyze which on-screen kisses have the most chemistry
behind them, so we decided to take a look at three of the key criteria behind a
good kiss, and rate some of the most iconic kisses in film against them.

To do this, we teamed up with Patti Wood, an internationally recognized nonverbal communication and human behavior expert. She has conducted years of research in the field of human behavior, so was the ideal person to help us on our quest to find the best and most awkward kisses.

Patti Wood watched hours of iconic kissing footage and rated them on how
‘fully present’, ‘mutual’ and ‘natural’ they were (descriptions at the end).

Using her expertise, she analyzed body language to determine a score out
of five for each category and provided detailed analysis on each of the iconic
kisses. We then combined the scores to reveal a ‘total chemistry score’.

Which On-Screen Kisses Really Had The Most Chemistry?

Kissing in film infographic - total chemistry score

Out of all the couples analyzed, the two that came out on top with the most on-screen chemistry were the iconic Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy, played by Colin Firth and Renee Zellweger.

After 32 years of living in a “permanent state of spinsterhood” Bridget
finally found her prince charming in one of the most iconic on-screen kisses of
all time.

We all love that moment in the movie, but why exactly is that?

As well as the fact you’ve been rooting for Bridget throughout, Patti
Wood explains that it’s also got a lot to do with their body language:

“When they kiss, there is lovely “presentness” if I can make up a word.
We actually see them go from being aware they are on the street and being
watched to blocking all that out so it’s only the two of them.”

“It goes back and forth on who is initiating and doing the work to make
the kiss happen but when they kiss he wraps his arms around her, and she again
crosses space to go to him, stands on her tip toes and throws her arms around
him.”

“It’s the perfect combination of tender sweetness, and then they get
hungry for each other. I love how they linger together in the embrace. It
indicates symbolically that this kiss will escalate into more and that they
will stay with each other.”

So as our expert explains, it’s all about the way the two were present,
the back and forth, the embrace, the type of kiss and how it developed.

That’s a whole lot of stuff going into one kiss – no wonder it’s so
iconic.

Category One: Fully Present

As mentioned, the analysis was broken down into three main categories.
The first one was ‘fully present’ and was scored out of five.

Patti Wood explained that fully present means that both people are
focused on each other and that the rest of the world melts away or disappears.

She used her expertise to analyze body language in the scenes to assess just how into the kisses the characters really were.

Kissing in film infographic - fully present score

There was a tie of four front-runners when it came to being fully present in their big kissing scenes: Bridget Jones’s Diary, Brokeback Mountain, The Notebook, and When Harry Met Sally.

The couples in the scenes were able to ignore any chaos which might have
been surrounding them, to fully focus on their partner during the kiss.

Let’s dig deeper into Patti Wood’s analysis to see the behavioral signs that
made the couples’ kisses a winning or losing moment in this category.

Brokeback Mountain (5/5)

“The rest of the world doesn’t matter, made even more obvious by his
wife seeing them kiss and them being oblivious to it.”

“We see a wide range of emotions and body language. We see a hug, a thrust and pushing across a across a great space, a collar hold, a passionate kiss, then they look deeply into each other’s eyes and hold each other to show they love each other before he turns and walks away.

“All saying nonverbally: I desire you, passionately and I love you, but I am denying it.”

The Notebook (5/5)

“Notice how their faces are touching. There is only them, the rest of the world doesn’t matter.”

Even the reality of the fierce rain pelting them doesn’t affect them.”

The Hunger Games (2/5)

“We see them sit sideways, not turn their bodies fully toward each other
and not look deeply into each other eyes. In fact, he avoids eye contact and even
looks down.”

Category Two: Mutual

The second scoring system for our kissing criteria was mutuality.

It’s incredible how many kisses in movies are initiated or given by one
person making all or most of the effort. The most romantic kisses are those
that are mutually given and received.

So out of all our selected iconic kissing scenes, how many of them displayed body language that showed they were one-sided?

Kissing in film infographic - mutual score

Here’s what our body language expert had to say about some of the scenes.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (5/5)

“So good. He comes to find her, but she crosses the divide to come up to
his still form. Then he reaches out and draws her in – and even her cat in.”

“I love how they both wrap around each other and push their faces into
each other and really smooch together. Look at how her fingers reach out and
around him.”

Twilight: Jacob and Bella (1/5)

“I would almost give this a 0, but there is moment before she is
repulsed and hits him, where we know she is making a choice and is present for
that moment before she makes it.”

Pretty Woman (1/5)

Pretty Woman - he sleeps kiss scene
Image: YouTube

“I think that if we are looking again at the initial kiss on her finger
to his mouth, it’s all about her giving the kiss.”

Category Three: Natural

The third factor that Patti Wood was assessing was how natural the
kisses were.

To score highly here and appear natural, a movie kiss needed to look like it was a real kiss between real people and not overly done or manipulated.

Kissing in film infographic - natural score

Here’s what she had to say:

Brokeback
Mountain (5/5)

“You have the
animal passion and ferocity and the tender holding and eye contact. There is
not artifice at all. It’s a raw kiss.”

Bridget Jones Diary (5/5)

“Even though it checks the boxes on a Hollywood romantic kiss, the way
they look at each other before during and after the kiss and how the kiss
change and continue is very much like a real kiss.”

Titanic (1/5)

To us, this kiss just looks SO impractical (hello, sore neck), but Patti
Wood noted there is a whole lot more we can analyze in the kiss.

The heavy symbolism takes away from the natural elements of the kiss:

“She is fully vulnerable to him. She actually put her arms out and
stands like she is letting herself be crucified – that very heavy religious
symbolism – and she could actually die falling off the bow of the ship.”

“In this case she and the audience know that what she is doing
physically is risky, and it matches with the relationship and life changing
risk she takes in kissing him and not her rich finance and the security of that
relationship.”

Methodology & More Information About Patti Wood’s Scoring System:

Fully Present

This means that both people are focused on each other and that the rest
of the world melts away or disappears. If there are other people in the scene,
the characters are unaware of them or don’t matter.

If there are physical barriers, they overcome them, which makes elements
like rain or snow that are overcome in kissing scenes more powerful.
Occasionally, the kissers bring nature into the kiss to make it even more
exciting and powerful.

It typically means that there is mutual eye contact and the front of the
bodies – what I call the body windows of the toes, knees, pelvis, stomach,
palms of the hands, neck, mouth, and eyes – are facing the other person and or
are touching. There are exceptions, such as when the one kisser is leaning back
on the other, like in the Titanic kiss.

Mutual

It’s incredible how many kisses in movies are initiated or given by one
person making all or most of the effort. That doesn’t make them less magical
on-screen; it’s just a different kind of kiss.

Since I critique the kind of kisses that most would like to be giving
and getting, I think a kiss that is mutually given and received is super
romantic.

It’s all so interesting as the initiator is seen as having the most
power and control. In many movies, the superhero or man or woman with the most
power can have the power dynamic changed by another character immobilizing them
in some way – by being the initiator.

Mutual kisses mean both people want the kiss, and typically, they both
have their mouths the same way inside the kiss. If one is touching or holding
the other, the other one is too.

Natural

This means that the movie kiss looks like it is a real kiss between real
people, not overly done or manipulated.

That may mean we see a natural progression that builds to the kiss, that
may mean that we see the intense passion and the character open up or fling
themselves at each other in a primal way.

One of the things that makes a kiss natural is that there is something
happening in the silence between the characters.

That may be eye contact or emotion playing on one or the other’s face,
or simply a felt tension before, and a release after.

I often watch the kiss without the sound on several times to make sure
that the music is not influencing my read of the kiss.

Other Terms

Our expert refers to some of the kisses analyzed as passionate, fiery,
sweet, tender, and other adjectives.

Although we know what the words mean, the types of kisses tend to fall
into a ‘heat’ or ‘sweet’ category, and there’s a scale of the types in-between.

Below our expert explains more about how it works and where the main
differences lie.

Heat

This means that the body language is passionate, so that you can tell
that the “kissers” can’t resist each other. That may mean that a
passionate kiss goes from still to one or both people moving swiftly across
space to be with one another and leaping, clinging, and opening body windows to
each other.

This can be seen in the open mouths offered in The Notebook and Breakfast
At Tiffany’s
kisses – clinging in a primal way.

Sweet

This is when we see a slow pace that allows one person to draw in the
other or court to the kiss.

There may be a look then look away eye contact, a touch, or asking for
permission before the kiss. Or it could be the initiator watching and waiting until
the other is ready before a kiss.

Smiling by one or both characters can make it extra sweet, along with a mutual
look at each other in the eyes. I think that the eye-to-eye gaze just before a
kiss and/or just after the first kiss is very telling.

Heat tends to come when the intimate eye-to-eye gaze goes to a quick
passionate meeting of mouths. The sweet kiss is preceded by one
character looking and the other bowing their head, or tilting their head or
looking away.

Many of these movie kisses play against the normal eye gaze that
preceded the kiss, by having one character close their eyes and trust the other
person.

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