Celeste and Jesse Forever Movie Review
With its refusal to follow the usual romantic-comedy formula, this snappy and observant movie is a nice surprise. Not only does it keep us wondering about where it's heading, but it gives the likeable Jones and Samberg much more complex roles than they usually get to play. And the quirky approach combined with some darkly dramatic moments makes it more interesting to watch.
Jones and Samberg play the long-time couple Celeste and Jesse, who have been together since they were in school. Now married for six years, they're starting to wonder if maybe they're just best friends, rather than a couple. So they decide to separate. The main issue seems to be surfer-artist Jesse's lack of ambition but, when he begins to move on with his life, Celeste starts wondering if maybe she's the real problem. Even so, they're still completely involved in each others' lives, which is awkward for their friends Beth and Tucker (Graynor and Christian). Maybe they need some distance.
The film's perspective centres on Celeste's messy journey, which is a bumpy series of conflicting emotions. She works as a lifestyle critic, so her comments on pop culture are hilariously barbed, but as her personal life dissolves she retreats into annoying pot-fuelled wallowing. It's often not easy to watch her, but Jones gives a ruthlessly honest performance that's both funny and disturbing. Her sideplots with her gay boss (Wood), her low-life drug dealer (cowriter McCormack) and a bratty popstar client (Roberts) are nicely played but only tangentially developed.
Even so, there are terrific scenes all the way through the story that catch us off guard, especially as Celeste and Jesse try to have more adult relationships with new partners (Messina and Dayan). It's rare to find a film in which characters learn lessons in distinctly individualistic ways that are never preachy. And it's even more unusual to find a rom-com that's both laugh-out-loud amusing and honest about the difficulty of making a relationship work. As it goes along, we realise a happy ending might not be on the cards, but that's ok because the conclusion is perfectly formed. And it shows us rather more about ourselves than we'd probably admit.