Published On: Thu, Apr 4th, 2024
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The Trouble With Jessica director on personal connection to black class comedy | Films | Entertainment


The Trouble With Jessica is destined to become a new comedy cult classic thanks to a razor-sharp script from director Matt Winn and co-writer James Handel.

Starring Shirley Henderson, Alan Tudyk, Rufus Sewell and Olivia Williams as a group of old friends, their dinner party takes a chaotic turn when troubled writer Jessica (played by Indira Varma) is invited along at the last minute.

In a horrifying turn of events that soon becomes darkly hilarious, Jessica shockingly takes her own life in Sarah and Tom’s (Henderson and Tudyk) garden, just hours before they plan to sell their house to save them from financial ruin.

What follows is a cutting satire on middle-class life and precarious friendships, packed with incredible punchlines and bleakly hilarious physical humour.

“I know we were joking about suicide, but I also wanted to say some serious things about suicide,” director Winn told Express.co.uk.

“I had a partner who committed suicide. It’s something that’s been in my life, and I went to a suicide survivors group for a while.

“I wanted to try and get something out of the film that was meaningful about the nature of what it’s like to be in such a black space. So, Jessica writes a letter, and me and my co-writer wanted to make sure that letter expressed that.

“Unless you know people that suffer clinical depression or have been through it yourself, it’s impossible to really understand what it’s like.”

Once the cast got to the stage of moving Jessica’s corpse across London, they often had a body double standing in for Varma, which presented its fair share of physical challenges.

“You can’t expect an actress of Indira’s calibre, you know, appearing in Macbeth opposite Ralph Fiennes to be schlepped around for two weeks,” Matt explained.

“So it was a wonderful, amazing woman who was a body double.

“Shirley practically lifts her up by herself, it’s incredible. Shirley Henderson is so strong, you wouldn’t believe it.”

Punctuating the farcical black comedy is an incredible score, inspired by trumpeter Lester Bowie, by Byron Wallen, whose discordant jazz sounds pile on the pain and frustration felt by the characters.

Matt explained: “It’s this high-pitched screaming stuff that expresses the anarchy of what’s going on with the characters.”

As for who the director would call if he needed to move a body, he instantly answered: “My co-writer. Yes, definitely.”

The Trouble With Jessica is in cinemas from Friday, April 5.



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