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Thursday, 27 June, 2002, 09:02 GMT 10:02 UK
Kissing Jessica Stein
Kissing Jessica Stein

Kissing Jessica Stein - girl meets girl in the lesbian comedy romance.

(Edited highlights of the panel's review)


MARK LAWSON:
Kissing Jessica Stein. Mark Kermode, as I suggested earlier, a sort of lesbian Woody Allen movie is what they're trying to do, does it work?

MARK KERMODE:
It deserves to be summed up by a snappy, Variety lines, it's post Ally McBeal sub-Woody Allen, lipstick lesbian, light, chick- flick, romantic comedy with a twist. Tick the boxes. I spent half the time laughing along, half the time wanting to pour a frappachino over everyone's head.

I mean the thing about it is, it is incredibly frothy, inconsequential and derivative. What are they going to do when Diane Keaton wants her act back? People have embraced this like it is an incredible re-writing of the standard romantic comedy with the twist being it is a lesbian couple. We have seen all this stuff before. On E.R. and everything.

MARK LAWSON:
Oh, but that is television. It would still be different to do it in a movie.

MARK KERMODE:
If the one triumph of this movie is to make lesbian sex bland, then they have achieved it.

NATASHA WALTER:
I'm afraid I agreed with every word, at the beginning I thought how many times have I seen this opening to a movie or television programme. It is Sex in the City, Ally McBeal and then I thought, no, no, no, it will be different, it will get harder, more abrasive. It didn't. If anything, it just made them blander. I just thought, like you said, every character we have seen before.

BONNIE GREER:
OK, it is a lesbian Uncle Tom movie. But we have to mourn that it will be the last of its breed. The last, I think, of the Clinton-era films. Bush-era films are not going to be like this. The genesis of this is about alternative families, yeah it's sitcom, it's garbage. The mum says, "Oh, you're in love with a girl." I promise you, in three years we won't see that.

MARK KERMODE:
I disagree with that. In the next year, you will see Kissing Jessica Stein in a million different formats.

BONNIE GREER:
It is in the pipeline, but in three years you will not.

MARK KERMODE:
You will. It is bland enough to fit with the conservative right-wing America. You can eat it between meals without annoying your parents.

MARK LAWSON:
We have no idea what they will make in three years. I'm shocked at you three. I thought they were tremendous jokes in this. If you have the Jewish comedy, we're used to the idea that the mother won't like the date.

It raises the stakes quite high if the date is a woman. All that works. We saw a funny clip earlier in which perfectly in character Jessica Stein, having decided to become a lesbian, decided to go out and get leaflets. The idea that you go to the library if you decide to become lesbian.

NATASHA WALTER:
The film was so scared of sex, and then doing sex is them looking at a leaflet and having a kiss.

MARK LAWSON:
It isn't about that, it is about her clinical, mechanical approach to it.

MARK KERMODE:
It is about the clinical and mechanical approach of the film-maker to the subject! That is the problem!

MARK LAWSON:
No, it isn't, it is perfectly in character! If she was going to go on a holiday to Crete, she would get books about Crete. And she is going to become a lesbian and so she gets all these books about being a lesbian.

NATASHA WALTER:
She is one thing, this neurotic, clinical woman. There is never anything else revealed about her. Yes, it is in character but...

MARK LAWSON:
There's also one in the car in which they discussed the blending of lipstick. A fantastic reaction of her Jewish grandmother when she reveals she's gay. The grandmother said, "You could have done better, she's completely flat-chested." I thought that was on of the best new Jewish jokes that we have seen for a long time.

BONNIE GREER:
We have seen this in Annie Hall, this is 25 years old. The only difference is that it is two girls.

NATASHA WALTER:
We've seen this plot in Sex and the City, when one of the girls has a lesbian affair with a gallery owner. But, in Sex and the City they're not scared of sex. In Kissing Jessica Stein, all you could do is believe she'd just kiss.

MARK KERMODE:
In general, movies are always better. But it shows its roots. You know that the whole thing develops from a five-minute sketch that they decide to become lesbians. How shall they do it? They get some leaflets and it blossoms and blossoms, and it looks like a one and a half hour movie stretched out of a five-minute idea.

These people only exist for the purpose of making the gags. Some of the gags are funny. The routine about sexy/ugly, that's really funny. But that is a stand-up routine, a sketch on its own.

See also:

05 Apr 02 | Panel
02 May 02 | Panel
12 Apr 02 | Panel
02 May 02 | Panel
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