Kissing Jessica Stein ( )
Jessica Stein is a twentysomething Jewish New Yorker whose search for the perfect male may well leave her a spinster. Then, one day, a colleague reads an ad in a lonely-hearts column and Jessica realises she may have found Mr Right. Except, of course, that the ad is from a girl.
The strength of Kissing Jessica Stein is in the ridiculously simple premise – that a women looking for romance finds it in a same-sex relationship where love comes pouring forth and the awkwardness of sex is kept to a minimum.
Written by and starring Jennifer Westfeldt and Heather Juergensen, and taken from their off-Broadway play, it is packed with Jewish humour and New York sensibility while also tackling the issue of gay love in modern America.
Cue lots of ‘testing’ as Jessica struggles to come to terms with her new-found sexuality while, at the same time, ne’er a breast or belly button is put on display by two women who want the issues at the heart of the story to take centre stage rather than lots of writhing or acres of naked flesh.
Jessica (Westfeldt) won’t take risks or commit to anything resembling a radical (i.e. homosexual) lifestyle. She cowers away from coming out of the closet and informing her family, while Helen, her lover (Juergensen), longs for a life of relative normality and sexual freedom with the partner of her dreams.
One of the great strengths of the movie comes via the amazingly fresh and naturalistic acting of the two principals. A witty script moves things along at a zip, while New York provides just the right romantic and fun backdrop for the burgeoning love affair.
Hugely enjoyable and immensely funny with two excellent performances from the girls, Kissing Jessica Stein is a timely antidote to the conveyor belt ‘lipstick lesbian’ movies trotted out by Hollywood. It eschews titillation for characterisation, laughter and, frequently, believability – often shooting ‘guerrilla style’ on the streets of the Big Apple for added authenticity – and is rewarded by achieving almost everything it set out to.
Honest, dynamic and laugh-out-loud funny, Kissing Jessica Stein could well turn out to be one of the year’s biggest sleeper hits.