Celeste And Jesse Forever (2012)

DVD Cover (Sony Home Entertainment)
Genres: Comedy Drama, Romantic Comedy, Romantic Drama
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Lee Toland Krieger Lee Toland Krieger
Rashida Jones Rashida Jones
Andy Samberg Andy Samberg
Ari Graynor Ari Graynor
Eric Christian Olsen Eric Christian Olsen
Rob Huebel Rob Huebel

6.6 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: September 11, 2012
When I first saw The Vicious Kind in 2009, I knew that Lee Toland Krieger would become a force to be reckoned with in the world of cinema. His screenplay was tight and focused; his direction was painful and real; and he extracted memorable performances from actors not known for their depth (Brittany Snow). He brings all of those sensibilities to a quirky little film called Celeste and Jesse Forever. Krieger did not pen the script for Celeste and Jesse Forever but I wish he would have been allowed to give it a comb-through; I think his gifts as a writer could have added a much needed edge to the film that, while still wholly enjoyable and a surprise on multiple levels, felt a little saccharine at times. Written by Rashida Jones and Will McCormack (who briefly dated at one time), the film strives for authenticity at every turn and accomplished that feeling occasionally, but it still feels a little one-sided.

The film stars Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg as Celeste and Jesse, whom we assume are a happily married couple in their opening scenes. Turns out they are happily on their way to a divorce, still the best of friends and perfectly content with basically living together and spending every waking moment together. Celeste initiated the separation and Jesse still thinks there's a chance of working it out. The film deals with their separation by showing us some insights into their personalities and their insecurities through a series of characters and events. Ari Graynor and Eric Christian Olsen co-star as Celeste and Jesse's best friends who happen to be engaged; Elijah Wood as Celeste's gay business partner; Chris Messina as a possible love interest for Celeste; and Chris Pine (if you can spot him) as... well... I don't know what.

What makes Celeste and Jesse Forever work so well is its insistence, at every turn, of defying what we expect to happen in a film like this. Of course Celeste and Jesse get back together, right? Of course the characters undergo tremendous growth and change quickly and painlessly, right? Maybe in the movies, but Celeste and Jesse Forever knows what relationships are really like and doesn't hold any punches. The film is being billed as a 'romantic comedy' but it's far more a 'dramatic comedy'. The film is, essentially, the disintegration of a marriage after it has already ended. And, sometimes, it's painful.

The brightest spots of the film are the performances. Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg are so perfect in these roles. Jones, who co-wrote the script, turns in a performance here that should be getting the kind of notices Kristen Wiig received for Bridesmaids and I'm not sure why it isn't. Samberg proves he has more tricks up his sleeve than some of his other SNL cohorts and shows, in one performance, why Adam Sandler will always be a comedian trying to be an actor rather than an actor just being an actor. Their chemistry together is absolutely believable and we really find ourselves caring about the characters.

On the downside - the film lacks edge. Being honest is one thing but sometimes it needs some bite. The screenplay isn't predictable but it doesn't take any real risks along the way. We never really get to experience these characters behave in a way that would have made them separate to begin with, and without that, we're kind of doubting things from the get-go. The actors end up making us believe it, but some cooperation from the script would have gone a long way in that department. As the film stands, they are two likable people who get along very well and we can't understand why they would ever break up.

At the end of Celeste and Jesse Forever, I wanted to give both of the characters a great big hug and let them know that everything is going to be okay. In that respect, the film succeeded. Where it fails is in making us understand why we're hugging them in the first place. Kudos to director Lee Toland Krieger making the material work - I can't wait to see what he does next. And kudos to Andy Samberg for not waiting too long to show the world that his talent extends past SNL and Lonely Island. Dude has some chops. And, finally, kudos to Chris Pine for doing...well...whatever the Hell it was he was doing. 7/10.
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