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Kissing Jessica Stein

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  • Kissing Jessica Stein

    For anyone who hasn't seen this (very funny) film, the plot is basically thus: perennially single and a bit desperate Jessica answers the perfect personals ad in the newspaper, only it's in the women seeking women column. She meets Helen; they're perfect for each other; Jessica tries very hard to be gay; she tries very hard to be ok with being gay; she comes out to her family and friends; she and helen move in together and dance around in a happy montage. And in the last five minutes of the film, Helen breaks up with her because she's not gay enough, Jessica seems about to get together with her old college boyfriend, and Helen and Jessica are still best friends.

    So I just watched this movie for the second time tonight, and I was struck again by the way the very end of the film doesn't quite work and yet does. I went looking for reviews that agreed with me, and didn't really find any - they all like it - it's hard not to like it, it's a very funny, very fun movie - but most didn't particularly like the ending and didn't seem to see any point to it. And all of them talked about the 'sexual politics' of the film.

    To me, it's a very confusing thing. On the one hand, the entirety of the plot, the romantic comedy-ness of it, has been building to the moment when Jessica brings Helen to her brother's wedding and turns down her old college boyfriend because she's "with helen." That's the resolution of the momentum of the story, which carried through attempts to get into sex with Helen, and through Jessica's fears of her family and friends finding out. This was where the film seemed to be taking us - to a story about how your gender doesn't matter, and how we fall in love with who we fall in love with.

    But the last few scenes seem to be saying that in fact, there's more to love than love - there's sex, and in sex, gender does matter. That you can't make yourself into something you're not.

    And who knows, maybe there's some truth to that, though I don't appreciate the random switch in film purpose in the last five minutes. But watching it again tonight, I noticed that there was this whole bit about blending lipstick - Helen wears three different shades, and Jessica is still searching for the perfect single shade - and how part of the resolution that we hear from Jessica is that she doesn't believe that there's just a One for each person. So maybe, what the end of the film was trying to say but said badly, is that in fact it's not just that there's not a One for each person, but there's not only one - that you have to blend the people in your life together to get the perfect shade, so to speak.

    Ok, well I may be talking in the wind here because I'm not sure if anyone else has even seen this movie let alone feels any desire to talk about it...but if you do...thoughts?