August 27, 2012

Movie Review: Celeste and Jesse Forever

It was not that long ago that Celeste and Jesse Forever came to my attention. The railed played in front front of some movie I can't recall, but the tailed kind of stood out. It looked to be just another romantic comedy, but there was a twist. Instead of featuring a couple trying to make things work, attract each other, or even in the throes of a break up, this movie is about a married couple who are going through a divorce but are remaining best friends. It is an idea that flies in the face of what is socially acceptable and expected.

As the film opens, the credits paint a picture of a happy couple that have been together for years and are perfectly at ease with each other. The opening shifts to a restaurant scene where Celeste and Jesse are having a meal with their best friends, Beth (Ari Graynor) and Tucker (Eric Christian Olsen), a couple on verge of marriage. The scene becomes uncomfortable for the friends as they watch Celeste and Jesse entertain themselves with the menu.

It certainly is an odd sequence, especially when you learn that the seemingly happy couple are separated and in the midst of getting divorced. They are so comfortable with each other, sharing a similar sense of humor that finds the,selves laughing at jokes only they understand. Beth and Tucker are left to watch disgustedly before throwing p heir hands and leaving. This isn't how divorcing couples are supposed to act, remaining best friends is not supposed to be an option.

This is an interesting, fresh look at the romantic comedy. It is a movie that sidesteps the normal clich├ęs of the genre. Celeste and Jesse are different personalities, they are quite compatible with each other, evidenced by their deep friendship, but the differences seem to keep them from being the perfect couple.

Celeste is ambitious, for herself, her job, for Jesse, and for their marriage. She sees big possibilities for them to be something more than they are, going that next step. On the other hand, Jesse, the stereotypical out of work artist, is perfectly at ease with his position. This is where the divorce aspect comes in, she wants the next step and he is content. So, while the marriage may flounder due to their differing ambitions, they still have the history and sense of humor that keeps them together.

Even in the divorced state, they have a relationship that could continue to glide through time without end. She is attached to him as a friend and he thinks she will eenually come back around. The familiarity and potential to rekindle the romance is always there for them, the sparks may have died to embers, but it is still there. Their cinematic story needs a push.

A push comes in the form of a seriously life changing event for Jesse. It is something new for him and he is content to slide with It and see how it works, while Celeste has a harder time dealing with it. I will not reveal it here, but it is an intriguing development in their lives and creates a new hurdle for all of them to surmount.

Almost as intriguing as the story is, are the performers in the title roles, Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg. In particular Samberg, who displays are quality unlike his other roles. He displays a range that I like Andre fits the role well. I have always liked Jones and this film, which she co-wrote, gives her an opportunity to play the lead and show her abilities. They both bring a realism and subtlety that helps sell the characters and is nice to see on the screen.

Celeste and Jesse Forever is a very good movie that is touching and funny at the same time. It is populated by believable and likable characters that sand out form the usual romcom fodder. It approaches relationships from a different perspective, giving the genre a little life and a fresh feel.


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