The Incredible Jessica JamesSundance London 2017
Jessica Williams is brilliant in Jim Strouse’s The Incredible Jessica James, a comedy about a young playwright living in the city who teaches her craft to school children. Stubborn, headstrong and direct, Jessica is a force to be reckoned with. Living in Bushwick, Brooklyn, she is passionate about everything – especially helping children, art, and her work – and about the world in general; she has a zest for life that is inspiring. Recovering from heartbreak, she tentatively discovers new love in unexpected places while courageously endeavouring to set her career on fire.
An assertive young woman with tremendous chutzpah, Jessica boldly takes on the New York City dating scene and finds herself with an unlikely match, a rather nerdy Irishman. Each is drowning in their past pain – and she is at first using him to make her ex jealous. Initially the two don’t hit it off, but the similarities in their personalities bring them together. They eventually discover they have a magnetic and combustible mutual chemistry.
Writer/director Strouse presents this piece in typical independent film style, while allowing his actors the freedom to improvise. Williams is a perfect choice for this endeavour, as she carries the narrative with energy, wit and confident aplomb. Although the storyline is not especially original, the characters are compelling and inspire interest. The viewer is invested in these people and in following their lives.
The cinematography in the opening scene is the best, with a tremendous dance number by Williams. Containing many moving flashbacks and interesting dream sequences, the visuals carry the film well. However, despite excellent acting, and notably Williams’s superb delivery and charisma, the movie stumbles as the plot is somewhat thin and predictable. Although not groundbreaking, The Incredible Jessica James is entertaining, witty, fun and worth a watch, particularly to see Williams in what is undoubtedly a star-making performance.
The Incredible Jessica James does not have a UK release date yet.
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