Jamie and Jessie are Not Together is a sweet and endearing lesbian musical-comedy with the ability to sustain itself solely off the charm of its leading actresses, Jacqui Jackson and Jessica London Shields, who play Jamie and Jessie, respectively. They are two long-term roommates until Jamie plans to move to New York City to further her acting career, greatly upsetting, Jessie, who has been harboring unrequited love for her roommate for months. Their love is pleasantly unremarkable; the two girls casually converse, eat together, and hang out around town with one another without having contrived and heartfelt scenes, such as passionate love-making in the rain. It's that alone that makes this film almost worth recommending.
Much of the film concerns the social circle of these young ladies; Jamie is currently in a relationship with Rhonda (Fawzia Mirza), who she sees regularly, whilst Jessie finds herself seeing Elizabeth (Marika Engelhardt) after Jessie finds her bike violated one day, much to the dismay of Jamie. The constant circle of relationships here makes for a lot of unspoken tension, particularly the sexual kind on Jessie's behalf, who, while harboring these feelings and knowing her longtime best friend will soon be hundreds of miles away, is trying to replace that void with someone else without much success.
The film is, indeed, a musical, albeit an inconsistent one. Long stretches of the film occur without a single song being sung, which provides for tonal inconsistency, though not a real bother. The more baffling feature are two bald, bearded gentleman, who find themselves precariously placed in a variety of situations involving the two titular leads without any explanation, in a very Statler-and-Waldorf style deviation from the film's events. Certain setups like these give Jamie and Jessie a real homie feel for an indie film; the kind made amongst friends over the course of a month in order to create some sort of lively spark.
The charm of the film is a difficult one to summarize; it lacks the cheap aesthetic of your average mumblecore film and its dialog resorts to momentary charm rather than longstanding, verbal impact on a viewer. After some contemplation, I think Jamie and Jessie largely works because it's emotionally honest in such a tough situation; we simply watch Jessie try to get her life in order when her best friend and true love is moving on from their small apartment in an attempt to try and better herself and her situation. For Jessie to express her feelings for Jamie is the potential for Jamie to hold herself back and not rising to her complete potential, yet to remain silent and allow her to go on with her life without any admission of true feeling is to potentially cripple yourself with unhappiness and loneliness for a good portion of your life.
Writer and directress Wendy Jo Carlton is wise in making this film largely predicated off of the charming commonality of the musical numbers (almost making their goofiness resemble your average Troma musical number) and the relationships in this film very open and honest. The film also portrays lesbian culture in a beautifully natural way, where the characters don't walk around proclaiming their gayness, but simply acting and living their day-to-day lives without the ostensible purpose to make a statement or proclaim their differences. Carlton looks past all that to show a culture so predicated on "seeing people" and searching for someone to fill a hole or take pride in that, when deeper feelings come around, a real human struggle begins to occur.
Starring: Jacqui Jackson, Jessica London-Shields, Fawzia Mirza, Marika Engelhardt, Tinuade Oyelowo, and Sienna Harris. Directed by: Wendy Jo Carlton.