Jessica Stein is a single, straight, successful, journalist, part of a bonded Jewish family living in New York City, who finds herself not as straight as she thought when Jessica meets and begins an intense friendship with career woman Helen Cooper which ultimately leads to romance. Written by
I Wish You Love
Written by Albert Beach & Charles Trenet
Performed by Blossom Dearie
Courtesy of EMI Virgin Music (ASCAP) and Capitol Records
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"Kissing Jessica Stein" is the best kind of romantic comedy
At the beginning of "Kissing Jessica Stein" we meet Jessica (Jennifer Westfeldt) sitting in synagogue between her mother and grandmother discussing the lack of Jessica's love life. Jessica interrupts and says "Shut up mother, I'm atoning." This sums up and sets the tone for the greatness of this film - Jessica is authentic and very funny.
I connected instantly with Jessica as I am sure many single or recently single women can (and I'm not even Jewish). I usually hate making film comparisons to Woody Allen because a)its being done way too often and b)its just not Woody Allen who is still making great films for us. But in this case, part of my connection to Jessica is that writer and star Jennifer Westfeldt, like me, has probably seen "Annie Hall" one hundred times, and a great deal of Diane Keaton's Annie shines through in Jessica.
"Kissing Jessica Stein" is a romantic comedy about a girl who basically just doesn't know what she wants, but its better than that statement. The film is very well written and very funny. The relationships explored are real and three-dimensional and every element that moves the story forward is done with subtlety and humour. There is one mistake in the writing, and the writers make it obvious that they are writers, but it doesn't matter because the film is just that good. When they start getting too far from the audience with a character philosophizing about his current stance in life, they pull us right back in with a great line "You got dark." It also helps that Westfeldt is married to Jon Hamm and is friends with some of the best comedians in the business.
After you finish watching "Kissing Jessica Stein" (which, believe me, you have to), find Westfeldt's next foray into her version of romantic comedies "Ira and Abby" (2006). Oh, and if for some reason you haven't yet, see Woody Allen's "Annie Hall" (1977) first.
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