Arguably the best romantic comedy this year, ‘Kissing Jessica Stein’ wins no awards for originality (and neither will the opening line of this review). Straight girl is sick of men and decides to try the feminine thing. But like every other romantic movie you’ve ever seen, it isn’t about the set-up, it’s about the journey and in this case I’ll be happy to show you onto the train.

No stars, here just talent. And what talent. Usually in low budget films, you have to take it for granted that – some – of the acting – will be a bit stilted. Staggeringly although I can’t think of a face here I’ve seen before, everyone is uniformly excellent. It feels like a movie which has dropped in from an alternate dimension where everyone here is a big, famous actor in their field. Jennifer Westfeldt as Jessica, has a stunning screen presence. But unlike Jennifer Anniston (for example) she feels like one of us – and that’s why we root for her. Similarly Heather Juergensen, as the girlfriend, is instantly likeable (and not just because of her opening scene). The fact that their already friends improves an on-screen chemistry you feel would be their anyway.

The writing is also superb. They act, they write. I was reminded of the first time I saw ‘Walking and Talking’ or ‘Love and Other Consequences’, that kind of attention to the detail of people. The blossoming of Jessica from slightly plain, the just unbelievable is totally believable. There is an obvious through route from ‘Annie Hall’ to ‘When Harry Met Sally’ to what we find her. The girls are obviously fans of there previous movies, scenes there are mirrored here with a twist. Of course to tell you what they are would spoil your enjoyment of this film, but keep an eye out for re-runs of the moment from the end of ‘Sally’ when Harry tells her he loves her, when Woody and Annie go to the movies in ‘Hall’. That this film has been released under Fox’s Searchlight banner and not as a major studio piece demonstrates how the priorities of Hollywood have changed.

No comments: