Films don't always fit into molds that you expect them to, and that is really when you just might stumble across something truly surprising like "Celeste and Jesse Forever" now available on DVD. It's a rare romantic comedy that navigates the heartfelt, the hilarious and the heartbreaking with rarely seen skill.
Directed by Lee Toland Krieger
Celeste is convinced that divorcing Jesse is the right thing to do; she is on her way up, he is on his way nowhere, and if they do it now instead of later, they can remain supportive friends. Jesse passively accepts this transition into friendship, even though he is still in love with her. As the reality of their separation sets in, Celeste slowly and painfully realizes she has been cavalier about their relationship, and her decision, which once seemed mature and progressive, now seems impulsive and selfish. But her timing with Jesse is less than fortuitous. While navigating the turbulent changes in their lives and in their hearts, these two learn that in order to truly love someone, you may have to let them go.
It's a unique kind of film that makes you challenge conventions while be totally relatable all at the same time. Director Lee Toland Krieger working from the script by star Rashida Jones and her writing partner Will McCormick crafted a story that runs the gamut of all the emotions without skipping a single beat. Rather than follow standard rom-com conventions and hit story points, it came from a genuine and sweet place that never felt manufactured or forced. Shot with a lot of soft light, Krieger gives the film a borderline ethereal feel at times as these two emotionally flawed characters go through their story, one that we can easily relate to. Jones and McCormick kept the dialogue sharp and tight while the beautiful music that included the unique song choices and the lovely score by Sunny Levine, mirrors the atmosphere of the film to a tee. The song choice and musical score are so strong that it adds yet another emotional layer to this rich story that we can all get behind. It is one of the best uses of music in film that this critic has seen in recent memory. With such a solid story and talented people behind the scenes, it would have never gotten as far as it did if not for the wonderful chemistry between the two stars of the film.
Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg pairing on screen is so effortless and smooth that is a joyous thing to watch. As these two friends live through the dissolution of their love affair, they both at various times in the film wear the emotional pain that their characters are experiencing but never letting it get maudlin all the while hiding their pain in bitter sweet laughter. Jones was wonderful as the driven career oriented woman who loved Samberg's more flighty artist type but could never love him unconditionally despite how much she actually did love him. Samberg was brilliantly tragic at first trying to win back his best friend until he decided to move on. Both actors found the centre of their characters and played them to the absolute max for as much emotion as they could squeeze out of them. The film had an incredibly solid supporting cast that included Ari Graynor, Elijah Wood, Eric Christen Olsen and Emma Roberts who shined in their various roles but it is truly Jones and Samberg that are the rock solid heart and soul of this picture.
Special features on the DVD release include deleted scenes, two separate commentary tracks from Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Will McCormack and Lee Toland Krieger, a making of featurette and a glimpse on the red carpet at the premiere of the film with Q&A.
Movies like "Celeste and Jesse Forever" just don't come along very often, but when they do they deserve to be shouted about from the mountain tops, because rarely does a romantic comedy come from some a genuine and heartfelt place as this film does. It's easily the best film that most of us didn't see last year, so go and remedy that oversight as soon as possible.
5 out of 5 stars.