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“They were already in trouble… then she turned up”: A Review of ‘The Trouble with Jessica’

by Tia Janowski

Content warning 

A dinner party between old friends takes a dark and twisted turn when an uninvited guest, Jessica, takes her own life in Matt Winn’s newest film, The Trouble with Jessica. 

In the glitzy backdrop of a luxurious London home, a seemingly perfect dinner party among best friends takes a macabre turn. What ensues is a tale of dark British humour that weaves through the chaos triggered by an uninvited guest’s shocking suicide in their garden. The story draws inspiration from the classic Hitchcock film, The Trouble with Harry, with a dark, comedic twist. 

Written by James Handel and director, Matt Winn, the pair have created a perfect depiction of a friend group with clashing morals as they make a series of choices that could either save them or destroy everything they’ve worked hard for. 

Shirley Henderson and Alan Tudyk shine as Sarah and Tom, a married couple who are selling their house to get themselves out of serious financial trouble. 

Hosting a final dinner party with their best friends, Beth, played by Olivia Williams, and Richard, played by Rufus Sewell, an old friend, Jessica, played by Indira Varma, arrives uninvited and this is where the major conflict begins. 

The evening takes a tragic turn when an argument leads to Jessica's suicide in the couple's garden, days before their house sale. As Tom goes to call the police, Sarah realises that this will destroy their sale and the couple will be in financial ruin. Convincing Tom and the group to move Jessica’s body to her flat and stage the suicide there, the movie follows the conflicts they face along the way. 

Following the initial set-up, we see the movie divided into sections with witty title screens that state the next conflict the friends face in their plan. This brings out the dark humour of the movie without having comedic aspects taking away from the plot. 

While the movie is only 90 minutes long, the story didn’t feel rushed but instead like the perfect escape from reality. The beginning of the movie constructs the set-up incredibly well, showing us exactly where the tension lies in the friendship group and the events that led to Jessica’s shocking demise. 

Each of the four main actors injects raw emotion to show the conflict between the friend group and their different morals as secrets are revealed. The selection of Henderson and Tudyk was spot-on as they flawlessly brought the dry humour to life. Henderson plays Sarah extremely well, with a strong consistency in her belief that moving Jessica is the best plan for everyone. Throughout the movie, we constantly see how Sarah is only thinking of herself, ignoring her friends’ pleas not to be involved. 

Being a dark British comedy that relies on dry humour, The Trouble With Jessica is cunningly written to ensure it doesn’t brush over the seriousness of the situation. It delves into the true consequences of suicide, unravelling the diverse ways that it impacts people and their perceptions of a situation. 

The interruptions and conflicts in their planadd amusement without diminishing the seriousness of the situation. When Sarah says “Why couldn’t she have killed herself in her own garden?”

When expressing how much trouble this will bring the couple, Richard hilariously replies with “She doesn’t have a garden” - a perfect example of the brilliant writing throughout the 90 minutes and lines like this bring a breath of fresh air to such a heavy topic. 

The Trouble with Jessica perfectly brings to life the struggles of a couple grappling with financial issues, injecting a bizarre twist that reverberates through the lives of everyone involved. With its compelling plot and sharp writing, the film is an excellent exploration of real-world issues, using dark humour as its guiding light. 


Edited by Emily Duff

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