Posted July 23, 2012 by Alex Moss Editor in C
 
 

Celeste And Jesse Forever


Romantic comedies have always been one of cinema’s most hit or miss

genres. For every When
Harry Met Sally
there’s a host of Sarah
Jessica
Parker films
just waiting to disappoint like a drunken one night stand you’d chew your own
arm off to get away from. These days, with the tragic loss of Norah Ephron and the emergence of
tripe such as He’s Not That Into
You
, Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, the genre has
become increasingly devoid of real interest. Only Crazy, Stupid Love has come close
to hitting the heights the genre has to offer. So it is with some
trepidation you walk into Celeste
And Jesse Forever
, which looks like an indie re-tread of Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston bore-fest The Break-Up.

 

Celeste
(Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg) are the perfect
couple. They’re best friends, have their own little in-jokes and are
most happy when in each other’s company. But their
soon-to-be-married friends Beth (Ari
Graynor
) and Tucker (Eric Christian
Olsen
) have had enough of the couple’s ways. For while Celeste
and Jesse get on like a house on fire their marriage has in fact
failed. They’ve been separated six months, with Jesse living in his
studio/garage at the back of Celeste’s house, and yet they’re completely
co-dependent on each other. Spurred on by their friends to get on
with their lives Celeste and Jesse start to date. While Jesse finds
romance with the “younger looking version of” Celeste in the shape of Veronica
(Rebecca Dayan), Celeste is set up
on a string of less than great dates by her business partner Scott (Elijah Wood). It soon
becomes clear Celeste wasn’t as ready to move on as she thought.

 

Aimed
firmly at a thirty-something audience, Celeste And Jesse Forever is for all
those people whose friends are either getting married or getting
divorced. It’s a quarter-life crisis film; a story set at the point
where change is inevitable and no one is ready for or wants it. They
haven’t broken up because they don’t love each other any more but because they
want different things out of life. Or at least they think they
do. It’s an honest look at love in the 21st century. It
is complicated, work will get in the way and no matter how hard you try and
build Ikea furniture it always fits together better with too much wine and
stumbling intercourse. And yes, there is a euphemism in there just
screaming to be let out.

 

Anniston
and Vaughn were mean to each other in The Break-Up; it was from the school of
nasty comedy. The kind of laughs gained from a foul-mouthed insult
or slap-stick set piece normally involving tacky and well-hidden
nudity. Celeste And Jesse goes a different route; a real and honest one
which paints a sympathetic smile on your face. You know they should
be together. You want them to be happy together. And yet
the more you grow to love them you just know they’re not quite right for each
other. Celeste is ambitious, high-flying and
successful. Jesse is an artist who rarely does much art and would
rather surf and re-watch emotional sporting events. Letting go is hard and many
of the film’s best moments come from Celeste’s attempts at making sense of it
all in the face of raw emotions.

 

If
there is a downside to the film it’s that it’s a little too long with some
scenes feeling repetitive. Just as you think their story is moving
on, Celeste and Jesse seem to fall back in together and it starts all over
again. You want to shake them both, screaming: “Please, for the love
of Christ, either get back together or move the on.” But that’s the
point. From an outside perspective, relationships are always black
and white, round pegs into round holes. When you’re in them though
everything is a big old grey patch that no-one, outside of the couple, can
truly understand or appreciate.

 

Uniformly,
the cast are on cracking form. Graynor, with her husky voice and
angsty delivery is always value for money while Elijah Wood brings a fun,
nearly straight, gay guy quality to Scott. Andy Samberg here
demonstrates he is a solid actor, one who is clearly more adept at playing the
straight role better than he is at his Saturday Night Live caricatures; you
just hope he plumps for more roles like this rather than playing second frat-boy
to Adam Sandler’s loud-mouthed
bore. But the real stand-out is Rashida Jones. Co-writer
with Jesse and Celeste’s stoner friend Will McCormack, Jones proves why she has, up until now, been so
horribly underused by Hollywood. Reduced to bit-part player in films such
as I Love You Man and The Social Network, Jones has a natural
on-screen warmth, a quality that is rarely found outside of Julia Robert’s big toothy
rom-com-fuelled smile. It seems clear that Jones was tired of not
getting the parts she deserves so went out and wrote Jesse And Celeste to prove
what she can do and the result is a resounding success. Suffice to
say she should rightfully go on to be cast in countless films off the back of
this performance.

 

At
times Jesse And Celeste Forever is a fraction too long and perhaps a little
overly sentimental. But it’s an adorably honest look at
relationships and highlights the importance of never taking for granted what
you have. Basking in a California-kissed sun, Celeste And Jesse
Forever is a warm and heartfelt rom-com which will make you chuckle and feel
without ever resorting to cheesy clichés or gimmicks.

 

 

Fancy finding your Forever? Head on over to Filmjuice Dating


Alex Moss Editor

 
Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com