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‘The Trouble with Jessica’ – Indira Varma’s character too hot to handle for two couples with secrets (film review)

‘The Trouble with Jessica’ – Indira Varma’s character too hot to handle for two couples with secrets (film review)

If you like smart witty urban comedies about ‘nice’, well-to-do, middle class folks, this should appeal…

THIS a lovely, charming, funny ensemble black comedy that would have made for a terrific play but is a little underwhelming as a feature film.

Having said that, there are good moments and it should make you laugh and you will enjoy the ride, if you like this type of smart urban comedy satire – that sends up the monied, educated and those with social pretensions.

Indira Varma plays one of the central characters – Jessica whose actions prove the catalyst for a lot of the dark comedy.

Jessica (Indira Varma)

She plays a single, smouldering, slightly embittered, beautiful writer/columnist.

Her group of friends with whom she is enjoying a dinner all have a past with her.

We don’t know the details of these associations exactly – they are all unveiled/exposed to vary degrees as the drama unfolds.

There are some flashback scenes which come towards the end of the film that spell these out – but they come across as clumsy.

It would have been better to have them up front – at the beginning – but still subtly filmed. We would have had a better understanding of why the characters behave in the way that they do to the shocking incident involving Jessica.

Jessica (Varma) and Beth (Olivia Williams)

Basically, the plot goes something like this – Sarah (Shirley Henderson) and Tom (Alan Tudyk) are a couple in a lot of financial trouble and they have to sell the rather attractive house they currently live in – and move out with their two children to somewhere a lot less salubrious.

The incident which is at the very heart of this film might feel a little too raw or possibly even insensitive. Ok, it is a comedy and not to be taken too seriously – and the incident is indicative of something that enables real emotions and secrets to spill out…

At this cozy dinner party are Sarah’s and Tom’s best mates – lawyer Richard (Rufus Sewell) and Beth (Olivia Williams), a counsellor of sorts.

The drink is flowing freely and there is much chatter about the menu and a particular dessert – which has not come across before.

Sarah (Shirley Henderson)

The course of action Sarah insists on – adds to the shock and disbelief and she persuades everyone to go with her plan – simply because ‘if they can get away with it’, the house sale will be intact and the two couples can continue life as though nothing much had happened that evening. The cash buyer even pays a visit.

Co-writer-director (and composer) Matt Winn does expose the rather crass and superficial souls these folks are underneath the seemingly comfortable exteriors – but it is mostly done with good humour and isn’t nasty, if you can get past the shock incident.

It’s all a little slapstick by the end and the final twist seems weak and unnecessary really.

Lastly, it shouldn’t go without saying – but Henderson’s is a bravura turn – the others are good – but she is truly exceptional and if you like her, then you really should get yourself to the cinema.

ACV rating: ** ½ (out of five)

Top Picture: Jessica (Varma), Beth (Williams), Tom (Alan Tudyk), Sarah (Henderson) and Richard (Rufus Sewell)

‘The Trouble with Jessica’ is out in cinemas in the UK from today (Friday, April 5).

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture