The Incredible Jessica James
Written and Directed by James C. Strouse
“This is your one and only life. What do you want to tell people about it?”
Indie, unconventional “Rom-Coms” are a favorite of mine. Beyond the “Rom” in the “Com” (or Dramedy, which this seems more like), I love when the story goes beyond a romance, and also has a strong story arc for the main character/characters, and also showcases other relationships in the lead(s) life. A good Soundtrack does it for me, too. All of this and more were part of the Netflix Original Movie, The Incredible Jessica James.
Jessica James is struggling. She is trying to make it as a playwright in New York. She is in the throes of getting over someone she may have been in love with. She is also trying to both be inspiring to her class of theater kids, and also be inspiring, and true to herself. She has stories to tell, and stories that she feels. She seems a little lost. She also seems to be on the cusp of something life-changing, and big.
She has a best friend who when not stuck in being the typical funny sidekick (it falls into that trope only a few times) seems to be a real and true best friend. Tasha has Jessica’s well-being at heart and is genuinely happy when good things happen to Jessica. She is a catalyst for Jessica meeting the love interest of the story, Boone, introducing them at the front part of the Film.
What I loved was that despite the romance that is obviously building, with a somewhat expected up and down arc, the real story really focuses on Jessica. Her dreams and ambitions, here emotional makeup, her boldness and her insecurities, her relationship with her students, and with Tasha, with her family, and with herself. I also love what they chose to do with the end (no spoilers, go now go and watch it).
“Body and Soul” by William Onyeabor
from the Soundtrack
Jessica Williams, previously of The Daily Show, is phenomenal in this. This is her Movie, and she shines and stands out in every single scene. When the final credits rolled all I kept thinking is how much I want to see her in something else. Chris O’Dowd is charming as always, his low-key sincerity perfect for the role of somewhat broken Boone. And, Noël Wells, as Jessica’s best friend really stood out to me. I was always waiting for more scenes with her and Jessica, and was hoping to see a sequel with the two (or really three, counting Shandra) adventures in London, or a road trip sequel – yes, please!
The Incredible Jessica James Trailer