Drinking Buddies
dir-scr Joe Swanberg
prd Paul Bernon, Andrea Roa, Sam Slater, Joe Swanberg, Alicia Van Couvering
with Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, Ron Livingston, Jason Sudeikis, Ti West, Mike Brune, Frank V Ross, Jim Cibak, Alicia Van Couvering, Michael Zeller, Callie Stephens
release US 23.Aug.13, UK 1.Nov.13
13/US 1h30
Drinking Buddies
Raise a glass: Wilde and Johnson

kendrick livingston sudeikis
london film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Drinking Buddies As an exploration of a specific point in life, this film is authentic and observant. But it has a tendency to preach at us, overdramatising issues rather than letting them play out organically. At least the cast keeps it raw, creating recognisably realistic characters we can identify with.

After a day working in the front office of a Chicago brewery, Kate (Wilde) heads to a bar with the guys who brew the beer then home to her music producer boyfriend Chris (Livingston). One weekend, Kate organises trip to the shore with Chris, her colleague Luke (Johnson) and his girlfriend Jill (Kendrick). As they go hiking and hang out together, awkwardness arises in unexpected places, including a transgressive kiss. Then after Chris and Kate call it quits, and Jill heads off for a holiday, Luke helps Kate put her life back together.

Swanberg gives the film a meandering, improvised tone, which makes it a slice-of-life movie rather than a plot-driven story. But from the start there are hints that "something" is going to happen, since Kate has an unusually close, flirtatious friendship with Luke, while her scenes with Chris feel somewhat strained. Meanwhile, Luke and Jill struggle to have an open dialog on how they feel about marriage. So trouble is brewing, so to speak

The actors bring an earthy naturalism to their roles, with offhanded dialog and realistically uneven interaction. In their late-20s, they're on the cusp of settling down but still examining their options. So even though it's fairly clear where the film is heading, the actors make it believable, especially when their characters do something stupid. Wilde and Johnson are particularly strong in the central roles. As a portrait of people at this point in life, the film is observant and telling. It's only the demands of the plot that ring false.

Oddly, despite never showing these people getting drunk, Swanberg's direction and editing hint that their alcohol consumption is a problem. And this moralistic slant also extends to the way these people interact both inside and outside their relationships. It's almost as if Swanberg is trying to exorcise his guilt over a bad decision he once made. But then human mistakes not only help define who we are, they make movies a lot more interesting.

cert 15 themes, language 9.Oct.13

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Drinking Buddies Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall