Love, Love Screen & Stage

‘Kiss and Cry’ Review: Not Another Cancer Movie

We’ve seen it before time and time again. The doomed love stories. I suppose there is a strange pull toward the idea of sitting in a big group with tears streaming down your face and leaving feeling as if your insides have been scooped out and dumped in an unknown location. I am no exception. I went through my obsession with The Fault in Our Stars (and all things John Green) and have also sobbed my way through A Walk to Remember on more than one occasion. So, when I stumbled across Kiss and Cry one night during a desperate search through Netflix to distract myself from tonsillitis, I figured that the movie was trying to jump on that same bandwagon using the same formula. I could not have been more wrong (something that I don’t like to admit). You would be forgiven in believing that this is just another generic young-adult tear-jerker, but I guarantee you that this tragic, heart-warming story breaks out of the traditional mold and will stay with you long after the movie ends.

Kiss and Cry is a romantic drama based on the life of Toronto teen Carley Allison, an aspiring figure skater and singer. At 17 she was diagnosed and made medical history in her battle against a 1 in 3.5 billion type of cancer. The film follows her heart-warming relationships with both her boyfriend and her family as she fights to overcome the disease and to make a comeback with skating and singing, all the time keeping up her motto to always smile and remain positive. This movie is an absolutely stunning tribute, made even more poignant by the fact that she sadly passed away in 2015.

Now, I have an obsessive personality, so as soon as the credits ended, I hit the Internet to find out as much as I could about this incredible young woman and the making of the film, and I was blown away by the attention to detail and amount of work that went in to keep the movie as close to her story as possible. It is this authenticity that separates this movie from the others in its genre.

The movie was shot in locations from Carley’s own life: her house, her bedroom, her high school, Bayview Glen, the Air Canada Centre, where she sang the national anthem, her school skating rink, and the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, where she received treatment. It also includes cameos from her friends and her beloved dog as well as renditions of covers she had made for her YouTube channel. What really struck me though was the casting of Sarah Fisher, one of Carley’s closest friends, as Carley in the movie. Before this movie I had never heard of her, but now she undoubtedly stands out in my head as one of the most talented young actresses I have seen. She portrays Carley’s strength and brightness throughout the film, and her bubbly happy nature allows us a glimpse into what Carley was really like. It would be hard enough for anyone to play this role, but having to relive the highs and lows all the while staying in character is an incredible feat. I have a huge amount of admiration and respect for her.

It is not only the authenticity that drew me to this movie. It is also the way in which the director, Sean Cisterna, and the cast strike a perfect balance between the cancer and her life. Rather than glossing over the disease with the typical Hollywood shine, they are not afraid to show the realities of cancer and chemo, something which particularly resonated with me, having recently seen a close family member go through the disease. We are not spared the hair loss, the weight loss, and the throwing up, but the main spotlight of the movie is not focused on the cancer.

This is NOT a cancer movie. It is about her refusal to be derailed by her disease and her decision to live a life filled with love, romance, fun, and laughter. This is ultimately what makes it truly powerful and inspirational. I would 10/10 recommend this beautiful story to anyone, and it has without a doubt made its way onto my list of all-time favourites (a very difficult feat). It is a modern-day Romeo and Juliet that will have you crying but ensures that you smile through the tears.

It is definitely worth checking out her YouTube channel to hear her incredible voice and reading her blog to hear more of her story. Whilst Carley had many achievements in her life, her greatest yet is the uplifting message she leaves behind, which is to always smile.