Jess & James is a sexually charged road trip film with a bit of twisted romance and a predictable – yet enjoyable – adventure mixed in with curiosity, threesomes, an eccentric old lady, and estranged family members. Jess (Martín Karich) and James (Nicolás Romeo) could not be more different. Jess is forceful and often unpleasant while James is soft, sweet, and desperate to get Jess to love him – and has a pair of jeans that will make you weak at the knees. It doesn’t take you long to figure out Jess is being mean to keep James on a leash, close but not too close and far enough away that no one will suspect they are anything more than friends. The two leave on a spontaneous road trip after only days of knowing each other, driving off for adventure and endless sexually charged moments.
The two young men arrive in a small town where they meet Tomás (Federico Fontán), a beautiful boy with tight curls and a chiseled jaw. Both Jess and James are completely taken by him, and as they gallivant around the town, a love triangle emerges and almost no jealously ensues. James is a little worried that Jess can’t pick between them, but he seems to understand that Jess isn’t completely his, and he probably never will be.
Jess and James invite Tomás with them on the rest of their trip but he doesn’t turn up when they agree to meet. So Jess and James set off to find Jess’ estranged brother, who was cast from the family after falling in love with Jess’ baby sitter.
Jess & James is a film about the love between boyfriends, between strangers, and between families. Even though their relationship seems slightly emotionally abusive, the two men find what they are missing in one another. Jess finally gets to be with a man who loves him the way he needs, and James finds someone to love the way he needs. There is a desperation they both feel, but from different sides of the equation. The addition of Tomás makes the dynamic more interesting, adding that little bit of adventure back into their time together.
Jess & James isn’t a groundbreaking road trip film; there is always heartache, turmoil and romance all mixed in to a confined space. However, Jess and James are often shot in vast open spaces, perhaps drawing from the loneliness they both felt before finding one another, or to put the situation in perspective. The film has everything: strict parents, crazy parents, rebellious children, estranged family members, and even ghosts. It feels a little jumbled sometimes, and at points I wasn’t really sure where it was going, or if it was going at all. But this is like a road trip in some ways, a bit boring and a bit all over the shop. Despite this, the moments of pure joy and a kind of synchronised behaviour between the two male leads bring their characters to life. Jess & James is a story of two young men falling in love, despite their differences, and finding themselves along the road.