The Trouble with Jessica

The Trouble with Jessica poster

The trouble with Jessica is that while in her youth her aggressive irresponsibility might generously have been described as carefree, in her middle age that same behaviour is invariably selfish, never having dealt with the consequences of her actions, never having formed any stable relationships, preferring to poach the boyfriends or seduce the husbands of those around her, breezing through life while others deal with the fallout.

The trouble with Jessica is that, never having had the chance to develop a genuine support network, she has nobody to turn to, a Daily Mail columnist who instead of therapy published a 400 page confessional memoir in hopes it would purge herself of a lifetime of bad decisions and toxic self-destructive antics, but instead it has left her more isolated than ever, the unwanted fifth guest at a dinner party to which she wasn’t even invited.

The Trouble with Jessica; Jessica (Indira Varma) stands alone while her friends enjoy the dinner to which she was not invited.

Directed by Matt Winn from a script co-written with James Handel, The Trouble with Jessica is a black comedy of devolved responsibility, Jessica (Torchwood’s Indira Varma) typically becoming the centre of attention as she provokes the others, her emotional outbursts turning polite conversation into confrontational accusations to which exasperated host Sarah (Tale of Tales’ Shirley Henderson) refuses to rise while the attempts of Beth (Hanna’s Olivia Williams) to play peacekeeper feel like pandering.

The trouble with Jessica is that having little capacity for coping with rejection, she opts for an early and permanent exit, hanging herself in the garden, leaving Sarah and Beth and their respective husbands, architect Tom and lawyer Richard (Con Man’s Alan Tudyk and The Man in the High Castle’s Rufus Sewell) to collectively pick up the pieces and decide on their course of action while conscious that completion on the sale of the house is due that week and any delay will cause Tom to default on an overdue business loan resulting in bankruptcy.

The Trouble with Jessica; Sarah (Shirley Henderson) escapes into a large glass of wine.

With skeletons in the closet, a body in the garden and the cards on the table, not to mention nosey neighbour Miranda (Kaleidoscope’s Anne Reid) looking for an autograph and prospective buyer Klaus (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’s Sylvester Groth) demanding a late night viewing of the property, it is a tragic house of cards built on unfortunate circumstance and bad timing through which the remaining friends must either come together or turn on each other, any one of them able to bring catastrophic consequences on them all.

Driven by the moral conundrum over whether respecting the dead should outweigh the potential damage done to those still living complicated by the deluge of fury Jessica leaves in her wake, it is a tale of how easily comfortable middle class aspiration can find itself on the crumbling cusp of the abyss, The Kipper and the Corpse played out by a flawlessly fraught ensemble against a ticking clock in an otherwise desirable suburban home with original features and modern kitchen blighted only by the lingering curse of Jessica.

The Trouble with Jessica is currently on general release

The Trouble with Jessica; Klaus (Sylvester Groth) asks Sarah (Shirley Henderson) if there is any reason she doesn't want him to see inside the downstairs toilet.



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