Jessica G. is a woman in her late 30s who has just broken up with her boyfriend. After a terrible night and morning, she finds herself out for a walk… and just outside her ex’s house, where she has an awkward conversation with him.
Jessica G. also has a friend named Jessica H., who is remarkably different. Jessica H. is a free-wheeling single woman who seems allergic to commitment and doesn’t want to settle for just anyone. Together, the two Jessicas navigate the tricky dilemma of women who want to settle down and yet somehow won’t settle.
This unvarnished, melancholic dramedy — directed by Jasper Savage, written by Jessica Greco and produced by Jessica Hinkson — takes an honest, vulnerable look at two women in a holding pattern, in lives that haven’t quite unfolded in the way they’d like.
Both Jessicas sit at seemingly opposite poles of dealing with their situation: one seems in control yet blithely hardened, and the other is vulnerable and almost powerless in the wake of a difficult breakup. Yet both haven’t quite yet managed to grow up and successfully “adult” in the way that they’re supposed to.
Empathetic writing and performances detail the Jessicas’ lives and situations with well-considered economy, with an eye for the perfect telling detail and an ear for the way we can both uplift and deceive ourselves. The dialogue is frank, earthy and sharp, and the sensibility emphasizes a vulnerable awkwardness unique to contemporary comedy. But the visual approach has a muted naturalism that adds an undertow of wistfulness to the story. This raw, open desolation makes for resonant viewing, and when the Jessica’s have to face the chasm, they realize the gap between where they are and what they want for themselves — and perhaps begin to confront the tenuous, fragile position they find themselves in as adults in their 30s who are just staring down the transition into middle age.
A coming of age story for people in their 30s still trying to figure out what they’re going to be when they “grow up,” “Jessica Jessica” captures a very particular window of time, both for women and for the culture. It’s perfectly possible now for anyone to live what can seem like an extended adolescence, when the options in life seem limitless and wide open.
Yet “Jessica Jessica” is very real in that it frankly examines the window that women in particular must grapple with, and how finite that window really is. Yet the short isn’t without its hope and resilience. For whatever fate they may find for themselves, both Jessicas have one another. No matter what vagaries and uncertainties they may face, the one constant they can rely on is their mutual empathy and understanding — and their ability to find something hopeful even among the difficulties of increasingly tough choices.