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Kissing Jessica Stein

Kissing Jessica Stein asks the question: Can a straight Jewish girl named Jessica Stein (Jennifer Westfeldt) find love in Manhattan with Helen Cooper (Heather Juergensen), a bohemian man-eater with an urge to go lesbo? You wouldn’t think that setup would produce a smashing romantic comedy, but with apologies to all the gay groups the film is bound to offend, it does. Westfeldt and Juergensen, who developed the script from their 1997 play Lipschtick, twist female archetypes from Annie Hall to Bridget Jones into fresh comic shapes. The film, exuberantly directed by Charles Herman-Wurmfeld, keeps springing surprises. Westfeldt and Juergensen are smart, sexy knockouts, finding just the right mix of fun and tenderness in their writing and performances. Scott Cohen excels as Jessica’s boss and former lover. And Tovah Feldshuh, as Jessica’s confused, devoted mother, can nail a laugh and break your heart with effortless grace; she’s perfection. Every once in a while, a movie comes out of nowhere to kick up your spirits. Don’t kiss this one off — it’s a winner.

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