Kissing Jessica Stein.

Last week I saw the film “Kissing Jessics Stein” (aka “Kissing Jessica” in Germany – note: German film distributors often use parts of the original title instead of a) coming up with something useful in German or using the entire English title. You think this is weird? You are right).

“Kissing Jessica Stein” is a postmodern romantic comedy about a woman, Jessica, in her late 20s who is exploring her sexual horizon by replying to a classified ad by lesbian Helen.

The film depicts in an extremely witty way how she gets involved deeper and deeper in the relationship, eventually comes out as a lesbian to her conservative family and moves in with Helen. In the end, however, she realises that Helen is much more of a friend than lover. Helen, of course, feels the same way and so they split as a couple but remain close friends.

While I really liked the film it made me think about two things. The first of which is the production budget, or rather, the entire history of its making. The two protagonists not only wrote the script while in acting school and later performed it in an off-Broadway theatre. They were actually involved in financing the film’s budget of unbelievable 1m USD. Distributed by Fox Searchlight pictures, the film has grossed about 7m so far in the US alone.

That is a return on investment which should silence all those who bought tech stocks back in october 1999, even if the production budget probably doesn’t account for marketing expenses. Interestingly, I (and no one of those I know who have seen the film) remarked anything negative with respect to its technical perfection. The minimal budget for professionally looking dialogue-based films without stars has apparently come down to about 1m USD thanks to technological advances. This heralds great things for films from smaller markets than the US – even if they won’t be able to keep up with Jessica’s ROI, for most of those films will lack the support of Fox Searchlight’s international marketing clout.

The second thing Jessica made me think about was the amount of estrogene the late nineties and early post millenium years have shed on the screens. The entire Western hemisphere has been familiarised with the most intimate feelings of the likes of Ally McBeal, Carrie Bradshaw, or now, Jessica Stein. We have indulged in their post-post-modern feminism and realised that today’s tv-heroines will tell everybody exactly what they want – even if everybody is no longer interested.

There is a direct line from Sally “having a salad” after meeting Harry to Jessica Stein’s lesbian exercises. I can’t really tell you why, but seeing Jessica Stein trying to convince herself that she can be a lesbian, too, made me realise that the days of estrogene on the screen are likely to end rather sooner than later. All that had to be said has been said by now.

So my bet is a return of testosterone on the screens. But in 2 years we will definitely know more…