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|Celeste & Jesse Forever
dir Lee Toland Krieger
scr Rashida Jones, Will McCormack
prd Lee Nelson, Jennifer Todd, Suzanne Todd
with Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Chris Messina, Ari Graynor, Eric Christian Olsen, Emma Roberts, Elijah Wood, Rebecca Dayan, Will McCormack, Rafi Gavron, Kate Krieger, Rich Sommer
release US 3.Aug.12, UK 30.Nov.12
The perfect couple? Jones and Samberg
SUNDANCE FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
With a snappy script and observant filmmaking, this enjoyable rom-com refuses to fit into the standard movie formula. It also offers both Jones and Samberg the chance to give much more layered performances than usual.
Celeste and Jesse (Jones and Samberg) have been together since school, but after six years of marriage they've decided to separate. They're still best pals, indulging in a series of private jokes and cute schtick that makes their friends Beth and Tucker (Graynor and Olsen) more than a little uncomfortable. The problem seems to be that the control-freak Celeste has become impatient with the surfer-artist Jesse's lack of ambition. But as he finds it easier to move on, she begins to wonder if maybe she's the one with the problem.
The perspective centres tightly on Jones' character as she goes through a rollercoaster of conflicting emotions. So the film has its highs and lows too, as we laugh at Celeste's sharp-tongued critiques of pop culture (which is actually her job) then tire of her pot-fuelled wallowing. Her journey is messy and sometimes far too honest for our comfort. And most of Celeste's cohorts never quite gel with the story, including her gay boss (Wood), loser dealer pal (McCormack) and a bratty popstar client (Roberts).
But through it all, repeated encounters with Samberg reveal telling things about their relationship that are deeper than we expect. Essentially this is a couple who hasn't grown out of their teens, simply because they never realised that they needed to work on their relationship. And this is a lesson both of them learn in strikingly different ways as they attempt to create more mature connections with new partners (Messina and Dayan).
It becomes fairly clear early on that a tidy movie-style ending might not be on the cards. There are some very dark moments in between the snappy jokes, and while we never doubt Celeste and Jesse's intense connection, we do begin to wonder if they belong together as a couple. The film's final act drags a bit with a series of repeated embarrassments and mishaps, but it comes together beautifully in the end, letting us see more of ourselves than we expected.
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© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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