The Incredible Jessica James
Written and directed by Jim Strouse, exclusively for comedian, writer and performer, Jessica Williams, The Incredible Jessica James, tells the story of Jessica James, an unapologetic, confident 20-something woman, navigating her post-break up with boyfriend, Damon (Lakeith Stanfield), in New York City through new romance with Boone (Chris O’Dowd) and her playwright career.
This 1 hour and 23 minute Netflix original movie, brings the laughter, while along the way, posing some questions about how to truly get over an ex, given social media and technology’s prevalence today, Should you unfollow your ex-partner on social media after the break up? Is Instagram-stalking too much? What does unfollowing an ex-partner on social media mean for a friendship/relationship?
The star of this movie is Jessica Williams who plays lead character Jessica James. Williams herself is already a star in her own right, most notably appearing on The Daily Show as the show’s youngest correspondent ever. Unlike The Daily Show, Williams take center stage as a strong, confident, independent, modern day woman ready to call out the patriarchy.
Williams was the inspiration of this movie as director, Jim Strouse recalls that he wrote this movie specifically for William after working with her on his last film. Strouse recalls his experience calling Jessica “a unicorn”, going further on saying “I went directly into thinking of a project for her to play the lead. If Jessica had not wanted to do this movie I would not have made it. I want her to be in everything I make from this point forward.”
Dating in a Social Media World
When we start the movie, we learn that James is recovering from a break up from ex, Damon. James struggles to get over Damon, constantly imagining him showing up on her street arguing with her or hanging off the ledge, professing his love to her. On the other hand, we see Boone, a divorced man, getting back into the dating scene. He is still hung up on his ex, often standing on the street watching her from her home with her new boyfriend.
Both bond over their past relationships coming up with a deal. Walking through James’ neighborhood, they discuss Instagram stalking and whether or not that’s healthy. Both admit that they still look and follow their exes on social media, posing the question on what would happen if they unfollowed their exes.
Since each of them are struggling to get over their ex’s, they decide that each would unfollow their prospective ex and follow the other person’s ex, updating each other about anything big happening with their ex. Apprehensive, James hesitates and then both decide to unfollow them at the same time. What then follows is a beautiful friendship with each other, James and Boone bounce off of each other making an unlikely connection with one another.
One of James’ trademarks is her brutal honesty. This honesty is a characteristic that follow James’ interactions throughout the whole movie making her even that more relatable. She calls it how it is and isn’t afraid to push people. In one scene, she makes eye contact with a man who is manspreading on the train and signals to him to keep his legs together to make room for others on the train.
In another scene, James, in a slump from her recent heartbreak, is told by friend Tasha (Noël Wells) to get out there. James goes on a blind date with divorced Boone, courtesy of Tasha. Visibly uncomfortable, James and Boone make some small talk filled with many awkward moments customary with first dates. Less than a minute into this scene, James transitions flat out asking Boone why he got divorced. What may seem like the beginning of a horrible date, turns out to be a lighthearted, brutally honest date as Boone and James bring up their love of honesty when James puts Boone on the hot spot about what he expected of this date. Boone admits that he hoped to make out with James and they get to know each other, filled with some laughter. Boone perfectly describes Jessica James as forthright.
Later on, when Boone tells James that he really likes her and she responses with “Of course you do! Everyone does. I’m freaking dope.”
Whether it’s during her job at a non-profit theatre company pushing her theatre kids to explore their creative side or whether it’s telling a date how she would rather “have her period for a thousand years, nonstop, than continue this portion of the conversation”, James is a strong woman with strong ambition who knows her worth. We can only wish to have a friend like James who isn’t afraid to be herself and tell it like it is, living unapologetically looking for the positive in her life.
If you, like this writer, is someone active on social media or into modern love stories, this may be something that you will like. Social media, relationships and girl power are at the core of this movie, something illustrated in relationships between Boone and James and Tasha and James. The Incredible Jessica James seems to be geared especially to the social media, everyday woman, fighting the system while looking for love.
Written & Directed by JIM STROUSE
Produced by MICHAEL B. CLARK & ALEX TURTLETAUB
Editors: JESSE GORDON & MOLLIE GOLDSTEIN
Available now on Netflix
All photos courtesy of Netflix