Before My Big Fat Greek Wedding became all the rage, another independent comedy made a splash - granted, nowhere as large - and that was called Kissing Jessica Stein. It's the story of the year that independent films are making headway, and Kissing Jessica Stein can easily be included; it's a well done and funny romantic comedy with good acting and a great script.
Jennifer Westfeldt stars as the title character, a straight woman who does not have much luck in finding the right guy. So she responds to an ad in the Women for Women section. She meets a woman (Heather Juergensen) and they soon start going out, but Jessica needs to take it slow, because, after all, she is straight. Things get more involved, but lesbian relationships aren't perfect, either.
Kissing Jessica Stein has so many well done elements going on at once that it's hard to know where to begin. It has a great script and good acting to compliment it; all of the actors spit out the lines flawlessly and casually. Westfeldt is especially good - that's probably why she was given the lead role - pulling off a professional but slightly depressed individual. She is nervous sort of like Rachel in "Friends," but a lot more believable and a lot more intelligent. It's fun to watch her on screen.
The story is also really good. The movie covers several months as their relationship grows and changes; Kissing Jessica Stein is a comedy, but it has a realistic story to tell. It isn't just a flaky romance comedy where the characters get into comical lesbian situations; the approach is that a lesbian relationship is just like any other, that it will have its ups and downs, emotional times, and so forth.
I am congratulating the movie on that note, but at the same time that is my only complaint. The last twenty minutes are much more serious than the rest of the film, and if I'm watching a romantic comedy, I want to see some comedy. The rest of the movie is pretty humorous, so it makes up for the ending's shortcomings, but a few funnier bits near the conclusion might have helped.
Kissing Jessica Stein is definitely worth watching, especially on DVD - there are extended sequences involving Jessica's failed blind dates.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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