Review: The Incredible Jessica James (2017)

Jessica Williams is gifted, and she’ll probably be a star one day. Until then, this is a lot of fun.

Jessica Williams and Chris O’Dowd have more individual charisma than shared chemistry, which only adds to the reasons why I kinda hoped their characters Jessica and Boone wouldn’t end up together romantically. While they were eachother’s best possible rebound, the most interesting moments in their connection are when they bring out what’s distinctive about their respective characters – Boone’s processing of his divorce (and in particular the way he schools a hurt Jessica on the reality of his connections and feelings) and Jessica’s passion for theatre.

The theatre scenes are especially moving, in both Jessica’s dynamic with her adorable up-and-coming playwrights, and the side of Jessica’s personality they reveal to us. It’s an unexpected added dimension both to Jessica James’ self-described “wild feminine energy”, and to Jessica Williams’ performance.

The film is gorgeously shot (s/o to cinematographer Sean McElwee), pitching this New York romantic comedy above Girls and below Gordon Willis-era Woody Allen (at least aesthetically. You can argue amongst yrselves on whether the movie on the whole is worthy of the comparison – I won’t get involved, but those mentions are kind of co-requisite here).

Lakeith Stanfield as Jessica’s ex: holy moley. He was a scene-stealer in Atlanta, and his few moments in this movie are so charged that any more of him would carry this movie away. His eye-acting game alone is so strong. Cot damn, this guy’s a star.

And speaking of stars: Jessica Williams is gifted, and she’ll probably be a star one day, but, at least as far as The Incredible Jessica James goes, she’s not quite there yet. But until then, this is a great showcase for her, and a lot of fun.

In the meantime: here’s Jessica Williams being real-life incredible on the day of the Women’s March, during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah: