Posted by Alia Haddad on July 13, 2012 at 9:36 am
Lee Toland Krieger’s Celeste and Jesse Forever premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and immediately entered into a bidding war with four studios all vying for distribution rights. With Sony Pictures eventually winning that war, it made immediate sense why the film was so heavily craved. Co-written by Rashida Jones and Will McCormack, Celeste and Jesse Forever is an indie-light movie’s wet dream. I mean, the plot centers around a childhood couple turned married adults who decide to remain best friends despite their divorce; the film is set in the venerable Los Angeles hipster scene of Silverlake and Echo Park; and the verifiable solid cast is made up of Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg (as the two friends in question), with Ari Graynor, Elijah Wood, Will McCormack, Emma Roberts, and Chris Messina all as supporting characters. It certainly did look as if Sony hit the indie-turn-hit jackpot.
And after seeing the film, I’m likely to agree with them. Break-up movies are often hard to watch for a number of reasons: first, they can be too-depressing, and no one wants to see Andy Samberg and Rashida Jones just fight for the 89 minute run-time, especially given their comedic backgrounds; second, they can be too silly as a way to make up for the sad break-up plot (a la The Break-Up); and third, they can be too unrealistic–people see these kinds of films in order to relate, a type of catharsis almost, not to feel excluded from this category. What was great about Celeste and Jesse Forever is that it presented a relatively realistic and relatable take on what a break-up between friends might look like. Yes, it was rather light, but it had to be (see reason number one on the list of why break-up movies are rarely successful).
More than just a relatable plot, Celeste and Jesse Forever was successful in making both lead characters endlessly likable despite their very visible flaws (this is not a Kramer vs. Kramer scenario). As the viewer, you are rooting for both characters which is nice.
Finally, the supporting cast really helped bring this movie into the hey-that-was-a-cute-film category. Rarely did a joke fall flat, and thankfully so. By the end of the movie, it was clear that Jones and McCormack proved their writing chops: they gave us a movie about a difficult subject that was at once relatable and enjoyable.
Celeste and Jesse Forever opens everywhere August 3.