‘Kissing Jessica Stein’ is a fresh take on the subject of sex and the single girl. When we first meet Jessica – a sensitive, but neurotic New York journalist – she is at the end of her emotional rope. Her brother’s engaged, her best friend’s pregnant, she hasn’t dated in a year … and she can’t sleep !
After an optimistic but nightmarish dating spree, she happens upon an intriguing personal ad, whose only drawback is that it’s in the ‘women seeking women’ section. On a daring whim, she decides to answer it. She meets funky downtown hipster Helen Cooper for drinks and, to her surprise, they click instantly. Their evening of banter, connection and heated debate culminates in a kiss that confounds and intrigues even the reluctant Jessica.
With conventional gender roles absent, the two women proceed to muddle through an earnest, but hilarious courtship, making up the rules as they go along. ‘Kissing Jessica Stein’ is a modern romantic comedy that breaks all the rules. Blurring the lines between friendship and romantic love it finds the funny, surprising and ultimately poignant overlap between the two.
Catching up with ‘Jessica’ (Jennifer Westfeldt) as we sit down to a nice meal in a Detroit restaurant, I first pose the question of just who is this infamous ‘Jessica Stein’ ? “Jessica Stein is a pretty neurotic, intellectual copy editor that lives in New York and I think she lives her life in her own mind. She has incredibly high standards and would rather stay at home with wine and literature and painting than see the world and be in the fray of dating and such. And I think when she meets this woman she has to open up her mind and reassess everything about her life and the box she’s put herself in.”
Is she modeled on anybody ? “She’s not modeled on anybody in particular, but this movie started as a play and in the play Helen and Jessica were far more similar than they end up being. But, as we developed the screen play over the years we just thought that for comedic and dramatic effect that we should make them as opposite from one another as possible and as extreme in their own right as possible. So I think Jessica became kinda of a super-hyper neurotic; a super-hyper reclusive intellectual who is really missing out on a lot of human interaction.”
Describe the movie in five words “Human relationships turned upside down”
What was your favorite scene in the movie ?“Well, there’s obviously a lot, including the porch scene, but I’m awful fond of the break up scene oddly. It was a late edition to the script and ends up being very interesting, funny and poignant where I don’t understand why the relationships not good enough. That to me strikes at the heart of the film which is just that there can be so much loving, sensitive, tender, sensual moments and yet if there’s an imbalance or a different sexual need it might still not work.”
What other working titles did this movie have ?“For many years it was called ‘Lip Schick: A Story of Two Women Seeking The Perfect Shade.’ We had a couple of reasons like we felt that people had the schick of how they are in the world and the schick of how they deal with the world. We wanted to play up the part of being ‘lipstick lesbians.’ However, we tied up with some idiot producers after a while who felt that ‘Lipschick’ was schicky and felt like a Farrelly Brothers movie and weren’t interested in that. So we brainstormed for like two weeks all these hundreds of titles and we eventually came up with ‘Seeking Same.’ But then we thought that it was a little lame, a little boring and so then we came up with ‘Kissing Jessica Stein’ because we all felt the criteria was that it had to be both funny and sexy somehow in the title.”
FYI – ‘Kissing Jessica Stein’ has already earned both Jennifer and Heather a Special Jury Award for Writing and Acting and the Audience Award at the IFP/West Los Angeles Film Festival not to mention the FedEx Audience Award at the Miami Film Festival.
To read our DVD Review of 'Kissing Jessica Stein' just click here and be whisked away !
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
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