Celeste and Jesse Forever
Starring Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg and Elijah Wood
Directed by Lee Toland Krieger
Rated R for language, sexual content and drug use
Jesse and Celeste (Jones and Samberg) appear to be a couple madly in love. They are touchy-feely to an extreme all the while making cute voices together and completely annoying their friends. They seem to be the happiest couple on Earth. Here’s the catch: they are getting a divorce. They have decided that they are better friends than lovers and it is time to leave their romantic relationship behind.
The unromantic romantic comedy was bound to happen. After all, a very large percentage of real life love stories don’t end happily ever after – so why should they in the movies? I’ll admit that it’s a clever premise with a lot of promise. So you’re probably wondering – why is this on Sony’s independent label, Sony Pictures Classics, rather than Sony’s premiere label? Why is this showing in art house theaters instead of the local megaplex? My only guess is that even though it has some decent mainstream stars and an interesting plot, it is far from a mainstream movie.
When you think of a film like this its easy to picture a horrid and depressing movie that will make you cry and leave you hating the opposite sex. Luckily for the audience, the subject matter is heavy but there are enough jokes thrown in to keep it light.
The relationship itself is easy enough to believe. Celeste and Jesse still love each other very much, but Celeste has a great career and Jesse is a slacker. She doesn’t think she can handle a relationship like that, leaving divorce to be the option. But when she starts to look at both her age and the men available for her, and when she sees that Jesse’s options seem much brighter, a story unfolds that provides for a lot of honest emotion and empathy.
Unfortunately, those jokes which serve to lighten up the picture are sometimes not as funny as the writers think they are and the movie, like the relationship, starts to unravel. I found myself really wanting to like the movie and the direction it was going in, but I was distracted and disappointed by much of the writing. And in my distraction, I found the picture too easy to be picked apart. I simply wanted something more substantial. It was like the project wanted so badly to be the next When Harry Met Sally, but just couldn’t muster up the right magic to make it really work. C+