Chasing Amy - Rated: HOT HOT HOT!

Holden and Banky, two of the protagonists of this fast-paced, very funny film, write and draw successful comic books. At one stage, Holden (Ben Affleck) tells his new friend Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams) that he'd like to get back to doing more personal work in his comics. "Why don't you?" asks Alyssa "I will when I have something personal to say" Holden replies.

The critics hated Mallrats, director Kevin Smith's previous feature. But it is clear that in Chasing Amy, Smith now has something personal to say. I didn't see Mallrats, but I read about it, and I gather it consisted of a lot of undergraduate humour: certainly nothing that could be called "personal". At the end of the credits of Chasing Amy, Smith tells the critics that all is forgiven. But I suspect that he understood what they were getting at with their criticism, because this film not only has something important to say, but it has a real heart too.

This film is so fast-paced and the dialogue is so rapid-fire that you begin to think early on that you'd like to see it again so you can pick up more of the detail. The discussion of the trivia of popular culture is so detailed, so witty, and so fast-and-furious that it makes Tarantino seem plodding. The dialogue is pretty profane, but the delivery is so good-natured that it doesn't offend. There is one scene where two characters compare the injuries they received through oral sex, which is as sexually explicit as anything I've seen in a movie, but it's sidesplittingly funny, it is totally consistent with the note of honesty the film is trying to hit, and it is crucial in the development of Banky's character.

Best of all, this film has something to say about relationships - something that you can think about long after the film has ended. The director doesn't let us off easily, either. So the problems that I thought I was going to have with this film didn't actually materialise. This director is far wiser than I first thought. I suspect that the "Chasing Amy" annecdote that Silent Bob (played by Smith) tells in the film is a true story. I suspect that the savaging the critics gave his last film led him to fall back on the telling a home-truth from his life. And that's why he's so hard on us at the end. The truth was what he had to offer. There are one or two moments in this film that are as true and honest as anything I've ever seen in celluloid. And that's the God's-honest truth.