Kissing Jessica Stein
Giggles. Helen and Jessica can't keep a straight face
dir Charles Herman-Wurnfeld
scr Heather Juergensen, Jennifer Westfeldt
with Jennifer Westfeldt, Heather Juergensen, Scott Cohen, Tovah Feldshuh, Jackie Hoffman, Michael Mastro, Carson Elrod, David Aaron Baker, Jon Hamm, Michael Ealy, Allen Fitzpatrick, Peter Hirsch
release US 13.Mar.02; UK 21.Jun.02
02/US 1h36

3 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
she just can't think straight With genuinely astute observations, this New York rom-com features a good script and an engaging cast that keeps us laughing. Jessica (Westfeldt) is a neurotic journalist who has had more bad blind dates than humanly possible. Then a woman-seeking-woman ad catches her eye and she thinks, why not? She and the sparky art gallery owner Helen (Juergensen) hit it off immediately, but Jessica is reluctant to go down this path, and it takes her ages to admit that she might actually be attracted to Helen. Meanwhile, the usual Manhattan singleton chaos surrounds Jessica, with a hilariously nosey work colleague (Hoffman), an arrogant boss/ex-boyfriend (Cohen) and a rather intrusive Jewish family.

There's a nervous humour at the centre of this film that draws us into the story and helps us identify with the characters perfectly. This is helped by very natural performances, genuinely witty dialogue and some astute observations about the nature of love and attraction ... not to mention the reactions of friends and family to unexpected news. Juergensen and Westfeldt create their characters brilliantly--both on paper and on screen. These are very likeable women, but not remotely simplistic. And the humour comes from their situations and interaction--it's never forced or farcical. There are universal themes here we can all grasp hold of, and some powerfully emotional moments that are never milked at all. Most impressive is Feldshuh's fantastic turn as Jessica's strong-willed mother; she brings the almost overwhelming Jewishness of the story to a place where we can not only laugh, but actually feel the emotions ourselves.
adult themes and situations, language cert 15tbc 22.Mar.02

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Laurence Richard, Southampton: "A very likeable mainstream film, whichever way you want to look at it. The story of these two American 'Bridget Jones' trying to live something romantic together is very touching and funny at times. The acting is great with a special mention for the hilarious pregnant best friend [Hoffman] from the office, and Jessica's fantastic and very Jewish mum [Feldshuh]. The direction and the whole feeling of the film remains in the tradition of the classical New-York-based rom-com, with the city paying a huge part itself. All in all, a very enjoyable and feel-good film." (16.Apr.02) she just can't think straight

Catherine Simonelli, Rochester NY: "Truly good flick! I found myself smacking my friend (quite literally) with laughter throughout the entire movie ... really very witty/well-written, not without inside (homo-oriented) jokes - making it all the more hilarious to me, being a woman who prefers women. The final scene wasn't realistic as far as my experience goes (or anyone I know, for that matter), but as a whole this film is definitely a must see - quasi-educational with loads of laughter to boot!" (17.Apr.02)

simar18, India: 5/5 "my view about this movie is that it's an amazing colabaration done very nicely, and is a rarety in my country, as they dont think much of these strong issues to be an eye opener or showing the true feelings or the understanding. its an awsome movie -- i loved it. and yes i love to watch movies like these, and maybe someday be a part in helping promote it here in my counrty. simply amazing, i cant stop talking about it. its a superb movie." (18.Jun.05)

2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall