Celeste And Jesse Forever (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner06/12/2012

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 92 mins

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 foursome.

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).

The Good
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 laugh-out-loud funny.

The Bad
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 trend forecaster.

Worth seeing?
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.

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Content updated: 24/07/2014 17:56

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