After a breakup, “we’re still best friends” should be the last thing you want to hear, but for Rashida Jones (I Love You, Man) and Andy Samberg (Saturday Night Live), there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. They play a newly separated couple in Celeste and Jesse Forever (2012). The film was an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival and the Los Angeles Film Festival earlier this year.
The film follows the title couple (Jones and Samberg) six months after they’ve separated. Celeste is a trend forecaster with a “go-getter” attitude and Jesse is a laid-back, unemployed artist who doesn’t do much of anything. The two still spend every waking moment together after the separation, despite the feelings of their friends. Without much hope of getting back together, they begin to date other people. When Jesse begins a relationship with a woman named Veronica (Rebecca Dayan of Limitless), Celeste begins to regret the separation after she sees the man Jesse transforms into around his new partner. Through it all, the two struggle to maintain their lifelong friendship and the love they have for one another and start to question whether or not they really can remain best friends.
Samberg and Jones make for an intriguing couple. The inappropriate jokes, gestures, and mannerisms they share are so random and hilarious that you can’t help but to root for them in the end. Even though things begin to look bleak, there are random bits of hope peppered into the complicated mess they’ve created for one another. The constant struggle to move on, the inability to resist comfort in the arms of the one you love, no matter the relationship status, is played out very well onscreen. It’s easy to relate to them. And they’re just so darn cute…you know, in a vulgar sort of way.
Now, I would never presume to overlook the brilliant performance of the ensemble in this film, but I have to make a few comments about Andy Samberg. Here we have Mr. “I’m-on-a-boat-with-my-d**k-in-a-box”, a Saturday Night Live regular, in a role that is not only serious (for the most part), but complicated and deep. Not only did Samberg act this role well, he achieved a level of depth that I didn’t know was possible with his character. I was very surprised (and extremely pleased) by his performance. I hope to see him in more soon.
The supporting cast meshes extremely well with our main characters. Ari Graynor (Mystic River) plays Celeste’s best friend who doesn’t believe the two aren’t together, especially since they can’t seem to stay away from each other. Will McCormack (Boiler Room), who co-wrote the film, plays Jesse’s good friend who encourages him to move on from his ex. Elijah Wood (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring) is Celeste’s business partner and friend who tries to counsel her during the struggle with Jesse’s new relationship. Emma Roberts (Aquamarine) plays Riley, a Ke$ha-esque pop star in which Celeste’s company has just signed on. This eclectic mix of talent brings forth a level of authenticity that is rarely seen in stereotypical romantic comedies.
Now, a note about the relationships outside of their marriage. Though Veronica seems to be the catalyst coming between Celeste and Jesse, the sweet demeanor Dayan brings to the role will cause you great inner turmoil. You won’t know whether or not to be happy for Jesse, sad for Celeste, or a little bit of both. A spark of romance comes into Celeste’s life in the form of Paul (Chris Messina of Vicky Cristina Barcelona) and you want to root for those charming puppy dog eyes of his, but at the same time, Celeste and Jesse are just so…perfect for each other. Brilliant writing from Jones and McCormack (who are said to have based elements of this script on their own short-lived romantic experiment) to not make it easy for the viewer to choose sides.
Behind the beautifully-written screenplay was director Lee Toland Krieger (The Vicious Kind), who did a stand-up job making in bringing the words to life with a pleasing intensity. I am certainly not surprised this film has done so well on the independent front, and I definitely believe Celeste and Jesse Forever is one you should find the time to go see. I know you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the outcome. Show times can be found here.
Little Rock Movie Examiner’s rating: 4.0 out of 5 stars
MPAA rating: R
Minimum Age Group: 17+
Sexuality: innuendos, mild sensuality
Language: several F-bombs, other mild expletives
Drugs/Alcohol: Social drinking, marijuana use
Themes/Issues: Divorce, drugs
Similar titles coming out soon: 10 Years (September 14), Liberal Arts (October 5), The Oranges (October 5), The Sessions (October 26)
Other films you may like: Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008), I Love You, Man (2009), Going the Distance (2010), Bridesmaids (2011)