Sundance London 2017 Review: The Incredible Jessica James

Simply fun

Jessica Williams’s infectious fun spreads far and wide in The Incredible Jessica James.

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Embodying all things empowering and unapologetically herself, Jessica James serves as one of those rare characters that is entirely real. A curvaceous body, a bodacious attitude, and a capricious way of living her life – Jessica (Jessica Williams) is the epitome of a feminist woman, not bound by society’s expectations of appearance and actions and just being herself.

Of course, as a normal human, going through a break up turns out to be a tough time. Discovering Boone (Chris O’Dowd) on his own path to recovery and joining forces to mutually get over their exes, the film pans out as an exploration of love, friendship, and our relationships with the people around us.

Whilst not always amazing, Jessica teaches that some bit of positivity can be found in most situations, and learns some lessons about herself along the way. Whether that be through taking the compliments in a rejection letter or working through the reasons for her break up, the phrase ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ never felt more relevant.

That all sounds terribly clichéd. It isn’t, I promise, it is genuinely a refreshing take on the rom-com genre and a wonderful representation of character in all instances across the film. From sassy children to an over-sharing best friend, the impassioned Jessica herself to her straight-laced family – each person on screen has a vividly real and relatable representation. In saying that, Boone and Jessica’s relationship is a strange one, but it works. Their differences and sense of humour come together to create something unique, which is fun to watch unfold over the course of the film. They aren’t a pair you’d pick to put together, which adds to the quirky appeal of the film as they slowly explore their connection to each other.

There’s parts that are better than others – such as the opening dance scene meant as an exciting exposition into the world of the ‘incredible’ Jess. This sets a wild precedent that isn’t quite lived up to within the rest of the film, but is thoroughly enjoyable as an attention-grabbing introduction.

Jessica’s creativity seems to be a facet of her personality that we are told about more than we are shown in this sense – with the playwright persona given huge tomes of written work that is never seen on screen, only read by others. I suppose this lends itself to her supportive nature, in that the creativity we do see is what she has nurtured in the people around her and in her non-profit children’s classes: but it would still be nice to get given a glimpse of what she has to offer.

If there’s one word to describe the film, it’s fun. It doesn’t take itself seriously and is in for the ride with a collection of talented comedians, with entertainment being key. Jessica Williams is fantastic, the feel-good factor is loud and clear, and definitely one to watch for anyone hitting a slump in life. You never know what’s around the corner.

The Incredible Jessica James screened as part of Sundance London schedule 1st–4th June. It is now available to watch on Netflix.


About Author


Deputy Editor of the Edge and FilmSoc President 2016-17. BA Film and English graduate, but not ready to accept it yet. Has an affinity for spooky stories, cats, and anything deep fried.

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