Critical Condition: Kiss Me First

Kiss Me First | Netflix, from Friday

➢ “Bryan Elsley, co-creator of Skins, returns with a promising and uncomfortably prescient sci-fi series in which only donning a virtual reality headset can take away the pain of real life … [The online world of] Azana is all breathtaking landscapes for sexy avatars to soar over, vertical metropolises, and, of course, violence … The first of six episodes of Kiss Me First, which Elsley has been working on for four years, is ambitious, promising, and bleak as hell.” — The Guardian.

➢ “The obvious comparison is Steven Spielberg’s recently released virtual reality movie Ready Player One. But its menu of pop-culture references offers nothing as nourishing as Kiss Me First’s atmosphere of angst and despair – sold through the warm, golden hour feel of its colour grading, and a performance from newcomer Tallulah Haddon that was as haunted as it was haunting, as though grief has made her skin uncomfortable to wear.” — The Telegraph.

➢ “Kiss Me First shares Skins’ casual attitude to sex and drugs and its focus on deeper emotional issues affecting teenagers in the UK (including the struggles of mental illness) … However, there’s one big difference between the two shows that really breaks Kiss Me First out of Skins’ shadow – the fact that about half the action is completely computer-generated, taking place in a virtual reality game world called Azana that our characters access using fancy headsets and haptic gloves.” — Radio Times.

➢ “Kiss Me First left me a bit cold, but that might be my problem. Anything featuring online gaming worlds sends me to sleep. I’m too fogeyish to care about avatars with names such as Shadowfax and Mania. Yet even I can see that this drama, based on the bestselling novel by Lottie Moggach, is clever and timely. Tallulah Haddon gave a nicely understated performance as Leila, a bereaved, lonely, awkward teenager who finds solace immersing herself in an online game as a warrior called Shadowfax.” — The Times.

➢ “It’s a testament to the vision of Bryan Elsley, who’s been working on this searingly ambitious project for four years, that I have quite no idea where this is going, yet, but suspect one message might be … real-life might let you down. Yet there is no heartache to rival that of a dream, found and achieved – yet, when found, found broken.” — The Observer.

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