out of Five
Running time: 92
Engaging, sharply observed and refreshingly cliché-averse relationship
comedy-drama with a strong script and superb central performances by
(co-writer) Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg.
What's it all about?
Directed by Lee Toland Krieger and co-written by Rashida Jones and
Will McCormack, Celeste and Jesse Forever stars Rashida Jones and Andy
Samberg as Celeste and Jesse, a divorcing couple who've been together
since they were best buddies in college. Despite their impending
separation, the pair share a close-knit friendship that both mystifies
and annoys their friends (Ari Graynor and Eric Christian Olsen),
especially when they still do cutesy couple talk while out in a
Ostensibly, the couple's reason for splitting is that Celeste had
grown tired with wannabe artist Jesse's surfer-slash-slacker lack of
ambition, but when Jesse suddenly gets a sense of responsibility
following the consequences of a one-night stand with Veronica (Rebecca
Dayan) and begins a new relationship, Celeste starts to wonder if she
made the right decision and finds it increasingly difficult to move
on, despite the possibility of a new relationship of her own with nice
guy Paul (Chris Messina).
Rashida Jones is excellent as Celeste, delivering an engaging
performance that is refreshingly and believably flawed (at least in
terms of conventional romcom heroines) and isn't afraid to
occasionally appear unsympathetic. Samberg is equally good as Jesse,
smartening up his usual screen persona and sparking likeable chemistry
with Jones to boot, while there's strong support from Dayan, Messina
and Emma Roberts as a precocious pop princess client Celeste has to
look after for work.
Essentially, this is an anti-romcom, at least in the way it doesn't
shoot for the usual predictable clichés (although some, such as an
awkward wedding speech scene, inevitably seep in). To that end, the
sharply observed script offers a perceptive view of relationships and
manages to pull off a surprisingly emotional finale that's true to the
characters. On top of that, the script throws up several decent
one-liners and is at least consistently amusing, if not quite
Ironically for a film co-written by an actress and actor hitherto best
known for their supporting performances, Celeste and Jesse Forever
rather side-lines its supporting characters, with neither Graynor,
Olsen or an under-used Elijah Wood (as Celeste's gay best
friend-slash-boss) getting much of a look-in. However, the film's
biggest problem is that the script loses interest in Jesse about
halfway through and pretty much side-lines him for a large chunk of
the film, which threatens to unbalance the whole thing.
It's also fair to say that not all the jokes work, particularly the
pop culture-related gags that come up as part of Celeste's job as a
Despite some minor flaws, Celeste and Jesse Forever is an entertaining, emotionally
engaging and refreshingly honest relationship comedy-drama with superb
performances from Jones and Samberg. Worth seeing.