This month will be loosely named Anxiety August because God knows it’s topical now. For me currently and many other people I know and love.
So this week we’re spending time in Jessica James’ world, feeling anxious about breakups and career rejection. And what a colourful, cool world it is too. Shall we?
The Incredible Jessica James (2017)
An aspiring playwright in New York strikes up a friendship with a guy while on the rebound from a break-up.
Jessica James (not to be confused with Jones, which is very hard) is a struggling playright who’s just broken up with her boyfriend. Opening on a rather awkward Tinder date in which Jessica roasts her companion for expecting to bone her and then bumps into her ex on his own rendezvous – I just knew this one was for me.
Jessica (played by Jessica Williams) is a cool cat and she’s like a real person. Sure, she looks like a goddamn supermodel and lives in NYC but she’s also down with the kids (literally, she teaches theatre to a bunch of rugrats that surprisingly don’t make me want to blow chunks) and she’s funny, man.
She’s also down for forgetting her ex and slowly begins to get over Damon (Atlanta/Get Out‘s Lakeith Stanfield) when her friend Tasha (Noël Wells) fixes her up with her divorced friend, Boone (the usually unbearable Chris O’Dowd).
Things get off to a shaky start, what with Boone still stalking his own ex (literally hanging out behind the bins) – and Jessica having all too relateable daydreams about Damon declaring his undying devotion/dying at the same time – but it starts to develop. The two bond over following each other’s exes on Instagram and again, it all feels very close to home.
While Jessica and Boone enjoy an uncoventional beginning, Jessica collects rejection letters from agents for her plays and tries to get her kids into the theatre. She focuses on one particularly talented young playwright whose own fragmented family life strikes a cord with our heroine.
Jessica also enjoys a weekend at home with her family while her sister celebrates her baby shower. This allows Jess to stand on the outskirts of the party being all judgey (yep) and then give her gift of a homemade guide to smashing the patriarchy. See, what’s not to enjoy here?
While Jessica manoeuvres this crazy world with the help of her best friend, her kids and her imperfect new lover, we’re just lucky to be along for the ride tbh. But will our girl ever make it in the theatre world, thus fulfilling her lifelong dreams – and will Boone become anything more than an accidental fling?
Well, there’s only one way to find out for sure, you know?
This was a fun ride but if this review feels a little flimsy, I guess that’s because it is. Sure, Jessica James is pretty incredible but I feel like this film suffers for not having actually been written and directed by a woman. There are moments of greatness (baby shower, the Instagram following scene, Jessica calls Tasha in the middle of her ‘me time’) that I loved but this could have been fucking good instead of just good, you know?
It’s slightly short on story line too and while I don’t always mind that, I feel like it doesn’t really reach its full potential. I feel like the theatre angle is quite fresh though. Comparisons to Girls are a bit baffling to me as this doesn’t feel as though it’s trying as hard as Lena Dunham always is, and maybe it is slightly refreshing for that. It is also nice to see a WOC in the title role, something Dunham has been criticised about overlooking in the past.
I don’t know. This was nice and I can’t decide whether or not it’s actual lack of angst in the face of everyday fatigue made it feel fresh or not. Maybe its chill approach to dating and getting through life as best you can is what we need right now. I could definitely take a leaf out of Jessica’s book.
3.5/5. I definitely want to see more of Jessica James/Williams but next time I want her to write and direct it. Maybe we could also get this as a series? I’m not done yet.