Celeste and Jesse Forever (2012)
Director: Lee Toland Krieger
Writer: Rashida Jones, Will McCormack
Starring: Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg
Country: United States
MPAA Rating: R
Time: 91 minutes
Genre: Comedy, Drama
USA Release: 8/3/2012 (Limited)
On DVD (USA): 2/5/2013
Like the famous line goes “Love means never having to say you’re sorry”, but sometimes like in the case of the title characters, Celeste and Jesse, saying you’ve made a mistake isn’t always going to change things. With it’s beautifully sculpted story “Celeste and Jesse Forever” tells how sometimes you need to figure out the difference between what your head and your heart are telling you. And how doing that changes things maybe not for the better but enough to help you figure out more of who you really are.
“Celeste and Jesse Forever”, tells the story of Celeste (Rashida Jones) who is a very skilled trend forecaster and Jesse (Andy Samberg) who is an artist but is currently unemployed. Having known each other since high school the two have been best friends and a couple for practically a life time. But after being married for six years, their relationship takes a surprising turn, they are getting divorced! Although you wouldn’t guess that, as they still spend much of their time together, like the divorce is nothing more than a technicality. However as they begin to start seeing other people, things begin to change between the two. And when a surprise turn of events happens, it becomes apparent that the mistakes that started all of this is too far gone to fix.
Unlike mainstream films that just focus on quantity rather than quality when it comes to films of this type, I applaud the fact that most Indies make it a mission to bring truthful realism to their stories, like “Celeste and Jesse Forever”. In the hands of any mainstream company this script would have been picked apart until it resembled another on the list of awful rom-coms like “Life as We Know It” or “When in Rome”. It would have lost it’s honesty about what real relationships are like and that’s what makes this film so brilliant in the first place. Written by actors Rashida Jones and Will McCormack (both of whom also star in the film), “Celeste and Jesse Forever” gives us a first hand look at what it’s like divorcing your best friend. Within the story, there are mistakes being made, arguments, depression and above all a confusion like no other and that’s what makes it so real. Life isn’t all sunshine, lollypops and rainbows, it’s messy and not everything works out as planned and I feel that Jones and McCormack did a fantastic job at relaying that message.
Although this story isn’t anything new in the world of film or storytelling, because of the realism and journey that the title characters go though, that’s what makes this a brilliant and somewhat original script. The tone throughout the film is something that also is true to life, on the surface everything seems fine or at least not so bad to ruin your life, but underneath is the potential to unravel everything you worked so hard to achieve. Along with the script, director Lee Toland Krieger does a great job of keeping the tone balanced and keeping the story crisply cut. With a story like this you run the risk of going overboard at curtain times but Jones, McCormack and Krieger help keep it tight and flowing really well. Although the film is called “Celeste and Jesse Forever” the journey we follow the most is that of Celeste, why is her struggles more important than Jesse? No one says the are, but it’s the fact that she is written as a high achieve, maybe she has more to lose. Either way we watch as they both struggle with falling out of love and attempting to move on at the suggestion of their friends. We watch as inside joke becomes less and less just as the familiarity of seeing each other daily moves to once in a while. Their relationship as friends turns from easy going to far more complicated than they ever expected, especially when complications start to arise.
Much of the cast has small roles since most of the film surrounds our two leads. Some notable performances comes from Ari Graynor, Elijah Wood, Emma Roberts, Rafi Gavron, Chris Messina and Will McCormack. Graynor and Wood both play friends of Celeste, one her best friends and the latter her work friend. Both give their opinions and sympathy to her when she begins to struggle. Graynor especially give some of the funnies deliveries in the film, like you expect anything less. Roberts who is a pretty good actress, although I’m still waiting to see what she can really do outside what seems to be her comfort zone. Her performance is a bit of half and half, playing a pop star that might actually be smarter then she lets on, Roberts does fine acting that out, but when in the full on diva pop star mode she seems hesitant and uncertain how she is coming off, which just ruins the effect. The rest of the supporting cast even the more notable one just float in and out of the film, only popping up when they are needed in the lives of our leads.
For Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg, they are the shining stars of the film in more ways then one. Samberg who is best known for all the highly charismatic characters he plays on Saturday Night Live and in some of his movies, will undoubtedly surprise you with his performance. You would never guess much like I did while watching that the guy can actually act serious, be charming and show range, instead of acting like a total goofball which I though was woven in his DNA. There are times that he gets to let his comedy emerge but with surprising restraint as well, he never takes any of the jokes too far like I expected him to. Much like his fellow SNL alumni Steve Carell and Will Farrel, Samberg might be able to merge his way into some marvelous dramas in his career, although its still too soon to know for sure. Jones on the other hand is someone that consistently delivers charm with her roles. While she is best know for doing comedies, she is able to show she has a multitude of range in “Celeste and Jesse Forever”. Playing mostly the goal oriented type of person, she is able to weave in some straight laced comedy during her character’s time of self confusion. And as her character arcs, we see that this grown up, still had some growing up to do, same as Samberg’s Jesse. Up until now I don’t believe we have had the pleasure of seeing Ms. Jones as the lead actress carrying a film, but after seeing this film, you can’t imagine seeing her any lower than that again.
Another notable thing is the chemistry between Jones and Samberg. They have an easy with each other, very playful, and that comes across well for the character’s as best friends and even as a couple. They have weird little idiosyncrasies that couple sometime have, some more quickly than others. Their character’s might be seen as weird but that’s what makes them all the more fun to watch. I think that Jones and Samberg did very, they seem to have a lot of fun working together and possibly adding a bit of themselves to their roles.
Overall “Celeste and Jesse Forever” is an honest look at relationships and love in general. It’s story rings true to the pain and the desperation of trying to move on or even just try and figure things out. It’s molded with so much realism that you’ll swear you were there to witness the whole thing. With fantastic performances by the entire cast, and a grand re-introduction to the wonderful Rashida Jones this time though as a lead actress, don’t pass up on seeing a film that will have you walking away thinking of your own past loves.