Kissing Jessica Stein

Kam and I had a brilliant idea: we decided to go see a movie. I haven't seen one in ages; been too busy. Was a little distressed to discover that I not only hadn't seen most of the Oscar-nominated films, I hadn't even heard of several of them. Of course, most aren't in theatres any more; this was really more an "I've got to get back to seeing more movies as they come out" kind of impulse than anything else.

So we narrowed it down to two choices for this evening: Gosford Park (which I've heard mixed but mostly positive reviews for) and Kissing Jessica Stein (which I'd never heard of, but sounded like fun fluff). After dinner, we settled on the latter.

(Note: If you're the sort of person who wants to see a movie without knowing anything at all about it, stop reading here. I'll try to avoid big spoilers in the below, but I do talk in general terms about whether I liked the ending or not.)

Hard to give this movie a coherent review, unfortunately. It looks at first like it's going to be yet another entry in the young-dykes-in-love romantic comedy genre (come to think of it, the last movie I saw also looked like that's what it was going to be); in this case, a neurotic young (female) Jewish copyeditor in NYC, unlucky in love, decides on a whim to answer a women-seeking-women ad. It turns out that the woman who placed the ad, named Helen, is a freewheeling art-gallery manager who, bored with her three boyfriends, is looking for something new.

The movie is charming, and funnier than I expected, and it sets up some standard romantic-comedy humor-of-embarrassment moments which it then doesn't deliver on, much to my relief. Which is to say, it often does something other than what I expected, in a good way. The acting is generally good, and the assorted best-friend characters are totally charming, especially the gay male couple who work with Helen. Despite a paucity of sets and a perhaps over-reliance on shots of the NYC skyline, the movie doesn't have the shoestring-budget feel that so many dyke films have. Unfortunately, the ending is disappointing. Interesting, but disappointing. I can't say more than that without major spoilers—I've probably already said too much—but I felt that I needed to mention this, because the ending is the only reason I can't wholeheartedly recommend the film. (It has other flaws, but they're mostly fairly small ones—though if a viewer were to find the protagonist's neuroses and breathy voice slightly more annoying than I did, that might push the movie over the line into unwatchable.)

Still, I think it's worth seeing. And it's apparently distributed by 20th Century Fox, which I imagine is a good thing, though I don't really know. (It's being shown in art-houses anyway, of course.)

I should note that I think Kam liked the whole thing (even the ending), so it may just be me being over-critical.

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