Kissing Jessica Stein Reviews
Westfeldt as Jessica is so adorably neurotic and girl-next-door-pretty. My perennial favorite, Scott Cohen, is mean and tough but also sweetly anguished. Jessica and Helen's romance blossoms awkwardly and hilariously at first, but the moment Jessica comes over to take care of Helen when she's sick is a nice turning point. The movie debates homosexual politics a bit, but it doesn't end with a clear message about whether one should be with her own sex or the other. It also doesn't cheapen Jessica's lesbian relationship as a dalliance.
I also love how the script sneaks in bunches of word-nerd humor and suffering artist philosophy. Judy's monologue about how Jessica quitting the school play because she thought her costar wasn't good enough - and only really hurting herself - is a metaphor for her dating life is eloquent and insightful. Josh's realization at his happiness for Jessica's painting and his own novel writing is a necessary reminder for all creative artists. Blech.
the movie's main message is simple, consider it as some thesis statement, it would be: is there any chance that a metropolitan heterosexual single woman finds love in her same sex if the men all wind up being so un-satisfactory? jessica stein, a jewish woman who works as a copy-editor in new york, is so frustrated by datings because men around her don't seem to be that thrilling or she has too many idiocyncratic principles of her own about datings. (woman could name lists of reasons why men become such a turn-off..let's skip that cliche)...un-expectedly, she answers the classified ad on the newspaper from a lesbian who wishes to recruit a date. then these two meet and find each other quite desirable and intellectually stimulating. so the lesbian tries to convince jessian stein into engaging in the lesbian lovemaking step by step. jessica lets her do it because everything about this woman is alluring except the fact she's also a woman.
the movie tries to imbue a realistic air despite it still has one of those liberal-minded naivete from time to time. it features the parts how jessica stein has a hard time admitting to everyone and her family that the person who grants her such enormous happiness is also a woman, and the moment she holds her tears in front of her mom about this episode of her life is quite genuine. the movie emphasizes the emotional obstacle for jessica stein to confess her "temporal homosexuality" and as a matter of fact, she's also confined in her conservative mindset about gays. but eventually her family and friends accept this new change in her. (which seems quite utopic for the moment)
the merit about this picture is its honest answer to this queer experiement of heterosexual metropolitan woman: yes, you might seek your happiness from another woman, who doesn't have all the drawbacks of the men you used to date, but life won't be happy ever after just like that. i suppose, i was wrong in the first paragraph, yes, it is a chick flick about woman looking for love, but it chooses to be honest without granting a user-frriendly, surgar-coated, falsified ending like most chick flicks. the purpose of this picture is to state the queer space is a potential utopia for heterosexual woman who is willing to cross the line for new things (let's say, banging in the other way..) just like that pop song of katy perry's, "i kiss a girl", but after you kiss a girl, then what? the girl you kiss might as well ditch you aside more violently than any depressing man who has given you a hard time.
the movie ends with their relationship being dissolved due to the lack of sex, thus the lesbian dumps her under the reason that they behave like roommates who are nice to each other and she wants her romance with the whole "package" (which means she cannot go on without passionate sex)...so the picture finishes as two of them drinking coffee, smiling like a pair of good friends, and jessica stein is still single. at least, happily, self-sufficiently single.
It's not just Jewish neuroses that hearken thoughts of Woody Allen; the structure of the love story and ending also radiate Allen influence. Like some of Allen's films, the characters' high-energy histrionics occasionally wore on me, but the film as a whole doesn't confine itself to its influences, and the "let's take it slow" lesbian scenes are original and often subtly sexy, see especially the scene when the girls are hit on in a bar and flirt under the table. Additionally, there is one dramatic reveal in the third act that is particularly well-done.
What the film is saying, however, is still a mystery. Is this a story about the importance of sex? the unimportance or slippery nature of societal categories? the fact that friendship must under-gird a relationship? This is not an uncomplicated romantic comedy; instead the filmmakers are trying to give us that feeling we get at the end of most of Woody Allen's films: that feeling that we saw something charming, and it was fun but also a little sad, but we're still okay with that sadness. I see Kissing Jessica Stein reaching for that feeling, but I don't think it gets there.
Overall, Jennifer Westfeldt's bubbly neuroses and the film's sharp dialogue keep Kissing Jessica Stein a fun flick to watch, but it's not altogether light-hearted.
Jessica is a late 20's Jewish girl, who can't seem to find Mr. Right. One day she comes upon an ad for women seeking women and meets up with the other lady. It's oh so comical, yet sweet & sexy.
This is a strange mix of a film that mostly does enough to work. In some ways it seems to be a quirky independent film but in many ways it is just an OK mainstream comedy. Jessica herself seems to be a strange mix between the neurotic side of Woody Allen, the quirky side of Ally McBeal and the female side of Bridget Jones. It is a strange mix but it more or less works as a piece of entertainment even if it isn't as sassy and fresh as it thinks it is. The relationship between Jessica and Helen is delivered in a pacey fashion that doesn't quite ring true due to the lack of depth to it but it does enough to keep things moving along. Laughs are not that common but the general amusing air carries it along and, although the romance is basic and the characters thin, they it is easy viewing and they still engage if you are in an undemanding mood.
Westfeldt overplays her neurotic character a little bit but she just manages to keep her convincing. She has an easy chemistry with Lake which really helps cover up the lacking material they both have to deal with; it helps that they wrote it and were probably very in touch with what they were trying to do, even if they didn't necessarily do what they could have done. The rest of the cast pretty much match them in turning in workable but unspectacular performances ? not their failing but more to do with the fact that the script is breezy and light and not something a lot of depth can be brought out of. Herman-Wurmfeld's direction matches the light material and keeps it breezy.
Overall this is a pretty sweet little film although not as fresh and fun as it thinks it is. The two leads could have done more as writers but they do have a good feel for the material and their performances help cover the material. Not many laughs or insights but it is consistently amusing and nice enough to be worth watching if you are looking for something undemanding.
[font=Arial][color=darkred]Kissing Jessica Stein stars Jennifer Westfeldt as the perfectionist title heroine searching for true love in the Big Apple. She answers a personal ad sent by Helen (Heather Juergensen), an art gallery manager trying her hand at the fairer sex for the first time. What begins in comedic awkwardness turns to the fires of passion. Which leads to much more awkwardness as Jessica attempts to keep her secrets and the true identity of her "friend" from her mother.[/color][/font]
[font=Arial][color=darkred]Juergensen and Westfeldt wrote the script based on characters they have nurtured for several years, and their comfort level with the material shows. Each gives a wry and charismatic performance, with Westfeldt proving herself an acting revelation. It must be nice for her to have something else to her résumé than being one of the "girls" in Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place.[/color][/font]
[font=Arial][color=darkred]Kissing Jessica Stein tiptoes a fine line with some characters possibly becoming gay or Jewish stereotypes, however they never do fall into the abyss of Caricature Land. Tovah Feldshuh, playing Jessica's mother, might make you wince at the thought that she'd be mired as a Mike Myers "Coffee Talk" portrait. But she has scenes where she shows real tenderness that is very affective.[/color][/font]
[font=Arial][color=darkred]At times the movies feels a bit too wrapped up in its own precociousness. There's even a standard montage of bad dates that becomes annoying much sooner than it ends. Those looking for deep lesbian issues needn't apply here. Kissing Jessica Stein hits its targets on a surface level, which can be deemed appropriate for an innocuous romantic comedy. The downer closing 10 minutes seems to come from nowhere and betray the feel of the movie.[/color][/font]
[font=Arial][color=darkred]The film plays by conventional rules for the most part but these don't diminish the healthy humor in the least. Kissing Jessica Stein is a charming and fun experience and would serve as a good date movie for prospective couples.[/color][/font]
[font=Arial][color=darkred]Nate's Grade: B[/color][/font]