Jessica Stein (Jennifer Westfeldt), an attractive, Jewish, heterosexual New Yorker frustrated with the sad state of her romantic life, answers a personal ad written by Helen Cooper (Heather Juergensen), an attractive, Gentile, downtown bisexual New Yorker. So begins the funny, likable romantic comedy "Kissing Jessica Stein," a movie that rises above its sitcom premise by virtue of its charm, warmth and clear-eyed vision of the perils of any relationship.
The two stars are also the writers. They're not interested in another coming-out story but in exploring the muddy line between friendship and sexual love. The comedy gets better, and more unpredictable, as it goes, and so do the performances. Tovah Feldshuh, as Jessica's mom, starts as a cartoon and develops lovely depths. Unlike its confused heroine, who can't integrate her private and public lives, director Charles Herman-Wurmfeld's movie knows what it wants, what its limits are, and delivers its delights accordingly.