Unvarnished yet lighthearted, "Celeste and Jesse Forever" leaves us loving them as much as they love each other.
Rashida Jones simply sparkles as Celeste, an accomplished, forward-thinking professional discouraged with her man-boy husband (Andy Samberg), who hasn’t seemed to have grown past the endearing moment-orientation of their high school days.
She decides that as adults they’re not as suited as originally thought, and it’s time to uncouple the pair bond and return to their dazzlingly affectionate friendship. If her role is to rather shepherd him along, probably best to do that from a sisterly stance.
There. Decided. Order restored, commence to paperwork, where shall we go for dinner?
Lots of times (if we’re lucky) we figure out in our twenties that love isn’t enough to sustain a long-term relationship, and realize the importance of day in, day out compatibility (the folks older than we always spoke of that, didn’t they… all that “love can grow” stuff…). It’s in the thirties that life progress and apparently-set personalities begin to hold sway, and that’s a whole ‘nother kind of compatibility.
Let the games begin.
As Celeste and Jesse reach this stage, thus arise The Questions: how important is [so-called] success, and need it be in equal measure? Does lack of ambition equate to lack of maturity? Are a shared sensibility and funny bone the superglue that trumps both love and lifestyle, or is it an enjoyable bennie that can be jettisoned, if need be, in favor of More Important Things? In the face of disparity, which side should carry the day: the shared vibe, or the shared viewpoint?
Ambitious, ordered Celeste of course remains confident in her decisions, given her certainty in knowing how things should be… until Jesse makes a move that introduces unexpected chaos. The wheels come off, sending Celeste reeling into a series of destabilizing mishaps that while serious (and a couple of times heartbreaking), leave us belly-laughing (even at her lowest, it’s so comically sweet the only response is an involuntary, “Aww”).
We never go into it, but in Jesse’s actions we’re even prompted to explore some truly high-stakes inquiry, including, Under what circumstances does one completely left-turn a life plan? His story is not the one told, ultimately, but one can foresee in his thought process that he actually has two roads before him, though perhaps he won’t know that until much later. (See, that’s what comes after the thirties…)
Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg display a powerful chemistry indeed (think Ryan and Hanks), and Samberg in his physical demeanor alone demonstrates some seriously excellent dramatic skills (would definitely sign up for more of that). Note: Jones also co-wrote the script, with co-star Will McCormack.
Celeste and Jesse may or may not be forever (I’ll never tell), but their silliness will cheer for a weekend, and their questions will serve for at least a decade or two.
See it if: You enjoyed "Bridesmaids" ~ CJ is elegant where "Bridesmaids" is raucous, but both carry the same heartfelt core within its heroine’s misadventures. Or if you enjoyed "Blue Valentine", but would like to explore the inquiry without having your heart ripped out in the process (no complaint there, by the way, that movie was superb).
Skip it if: You are, in fact, in the middle of a serious break-up as you read this ~ but definitely come back once you’re clear of it (or hey, maybe once the acuity is over and the reflective portion of our program has begun).
(PS ~ Been through my own “right vs. happy” inquiry, but still so appreciative that co-writers Jones & McCormack have officially set the regime/regimen record straight ~ there, I’ve said it. :D)
Story: An affectionate but apparently ill-matched couple decide to divorce but keep the friendship.
Genre: Comedy, Romance, Drama
Starring: Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Will McCormack, Ari Graynor, Chris Messina, Emma Roberts, Elijah Wood, Eric Christian Olsen
Directed by: Lee Toland Krieger
Running time: 91 minutes
Official site: http://sonyclassics.com/celesteandjesseforever/
Houston release date: August 17, 2012 at the Sundance Cinema
Tickets: Check the Sundance web site for details
Screened Aug 15th at the Sundance Cinema in Houston TX