|By Mira Harber
Why is it that a romance between two women is always seen to be so much
more palatable, or acceptable, than a romance between two men? In any case,
Kissing Jessica Stein is a romantic comedy about love and relationships.
It examines love and intimacy in some very profound ways, while still making
us laugh and question some of our assumptions and conventional thoughts.
If you love someone, and that special 'spark' is there, what difference
does it make what sex they are? Should you be able to express your love
physically to someone of the same sex? What is love anyway?
Jessica Stein (Jennifer Westfeldt) is a New York singleton, searching for
love with all the wrong, wrong, wrong men. We see Jessica on a series of
disastrous dates with totally unsuitable men (is it them, or is it her?).
She finally decides to answer a classified ad because she is intrigued
by the literary quote employed in the ad to catch her attention - Jessica
figures that anyone who uses Rilke in a classified ad must be, at the very
Boy is she right! Jessica meets hip Helen who works at a downtown art gallery.
She is sexy, cool and amused by the flighty, neurotic and sensitive Jessica
- and, oh yes, very attracted to her as well. Helen is bi-sexual and views
everyone in her romantic world as a possible partner - Jessica has never
even dreamt of kissing another woman, let alone having a relationship with
one. These women both really love one another - question is, can Jessica
overcome her head and deal only with her heart? Can she love Helen for
being Helen? Tension ensues…
Jessica works as a copy editor and her office-mates are consumed with questions
about her romance - who is her love interest, when do they get to meet
him? More than a few laughs are provided by Jessica's attempts to avoid
any discussion, or meetings with her new lover, who everyone of course
assumes is a man. Josh, who was Jessica's old boyfriend and college flame,
is now her boss. The friction between them increases too - is he finally
going to lose Jessica, just when he is beginning to recognize and admit
his true feelings for her?
Jessica's mom Judy Stein (Tovah Feldshuh) starts out as a caricature of
a Jewish mother to the typical neurotic Jewish princess, but as the movie
progresses, we see that she has a wonderful heart and spirit. Mom truly
loves her daughter Jessica, and is happy if she can truly find love, regardless
of the sex of her partner.
When the movie began, I was a little put off by the wordiness of the dialogue.
You know when you realize that 'real people don't talk like that' - but
once we get into the movie, the characters became more realistic, less
stereotypical, and were very true to their characters - they almost didn't
seem to be acting, which is excellent acting all round.
Kissing Jessica Stein is really a sweet and touching love story which just
happens to take place between two women. Some serious questions are asked,
and maybe even answered - not in any cliched kind of way, but in a really
sensitive, thought provoking manner. I highly recommend it. Who's to say
what love is anyway?