Thursday, February 14, 2013

Celeste and Jessie Forever (2012) ***½

Who knew Rashida Jones was such a talented screenwriter?  Apparently she got tired of waiting around for great scripts to come her way, so she and her friend, character-actor Will McCormack, penned this pleasant little, indie, rom-com.  The film is based loosely on their own experience of trying out romance but winding up fitting better as friends.
 “Celeste and Jessie Forever” tells the tale of the two title characters, played by Jones and Andy Samberg, trying to remain best friends while getting divorced.  Celeste is a successful media executive, a “trend forecaster” in fact, who has her shit together but is maybe wound just a little tight.  Jessie is a slightly under-motivated, unemployed graphic artist.  They are childhood sweethearts, but one can imagine how their differing approaches to life might have created friction over time, even between people who genuinely love each other as they do.  The movie begins with the pair separated, but with Jessie living in the guest house and hanging out with Celeste daily.  The arrangement is very modern and cool, but that sort of thing just can’t go on forever.  You can imagine the sort of complications that ensue when they start dating other people, and so on.
What I liked about the movie is that while many of the plot turns are fairly predictable for this sort of tale, the point of the story is not the standard “true love wins in the end” bromide.  It is that people can actually change.  Celeste and Jessie are both really good people, and the film does not yield to the temptation to exaggerate their flaws.  Nonetheless, Jessie’s lack of responsibility and Celeste’s overabundance of it are barriers to their happiness, and the story gives them a chance to grow.
I vote that Rashida Jones and Will McCormack continue writing together if they can continue to produce stuff this good.  “Celeste and Jessie Forever” is funny and human.  The characters feel very natural, and they mostly avoid the annoying extravagances that usually populate these romantic comedies.

3.5 stars out of 5

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