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lMovie Review
Kissing Jessica Stein
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 least, interesting.
    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?


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