A Refreshing Take on the Rom-Com: ‘Celeste and Jesse Forever’ Reviewed

In Celeste and Jesse Forever, Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg) have been best friends since middle school. They can slip into cute rituals and jokes with undeniable ease. They are content to spend every minute of their day together; it seems to be the perfect relationship. However, we learn early on that Celeste and Jesse are going through a divorce. The rest of the film delicately and intelligently explores the feat of trying to move on from the person you love, when that person is and always has been your best friend.

Directed by the promising newcomer Lee Toland Krieger (The Vicious Kind) and written by Rashida Jones and Will McCormack, Forever is a fresh take on the traditional romantic comedy. The film has a unique look, created by the heavy use of closeups and handheld shots. This lovely and distinctive camera work compliments the original storytelling in the film. Instead of using the clichés traditionally—and often obnoxiously—associated with the rom-com genre (spoiler alert: no one declares their love for the other in the rain, nor does anyone rush to the airport to catch the other before they board a flight), Forever takes a more realistic approach to the portrayal of a comedic and dramatic love story.

Together, Jones and Samberg have excellent chemistry, making the audience believe effortlessly that their characters have known each other almost their whole lives. Samberg gives a refreshingly honest and complex performance, blending heartfelt drama with a subtle version of his Saturday Night Live goofiness. Rashida Jones’s performance stands out as absolutely stellar, bringing comedy, strength, and tragedy to Celeste.

The most striking quality of this film is the reality of its characters. Celeste and Jesse both have subtle flaws, but are still likeable, good people. Celeste is a motivated and successful career woman, but is too good at recognizing the imperfections in others and doesn’t hesitate to point them out. Jesse hasn’t figured out his career path yet, and has a fear of growing up. Their flaws are believable. Like real people, they can be intentionally mean to each other one minute, and forgiving and loving the next.

The depth to which Celeste’s character is explored and developed is a particularly welcome departure from most female characters found on the big screen today. Often, female characters, especially heartbroken ones, don’t get developed as fully as their male counterparts. There is a segment in the film where Celeste is coming to realize her own flaws and mistakes; she pretty much hits rock bottom emotionally. Fearlessly, the film allows Celeste to look as miserable as she feels. She starts to appear unkempt, sloppy, and even un-showered. She alternates between excessive drinking, eating, pot smoking, and jogging. With this approach, allowing a female character to look and be broken, the audience can completely feel her pain and regret.

With many surprises and unexpected turns, Forever is a charming story of people learning how to gracefully find, lose, and keep love. It is witty and funny, but doesn’t shy away from exploring both the pain and joy of love as it looks in real life.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQoH1IGRB3w]
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