“Celeste and Jesse Forever” explores the emotional truths that most romantic comedies don’t want to deal with, and yet somehow still manages to keep the audience laughing.
However, the best thing about this film isn’t that it far exceeds the expectations of a romantic comedy, but that it does so with a less than $1 million budget.
Director Lee Toland Krieger is only 28-years-old and already making a splash in the film world. This will be his third feature film and while it might not launch his career to critical success, he should be recognized for his ability to make such an authentic and intimate film.
Krieger, however, shouldn’t get all the credit.
Will McCormack co-wrote the film with friend Rashida Jones, who also stars in the film opposite Andy Samberg. Jones and McCormack originally sold the film back in 2009 to Fox Atomic but the company went under before they ever started production. Similar things kept happening over the next few years, but they didn’t give up. They felt like this was a movie that needed to be made, and rightfully so.
This film shows that not all love stories have to have the typical cookie cutter ending, not all low-budget films have to have a mumblecore quality, and sometimes the best actors to play dynamic characters, are the most unexpected.
The film starts out with an adorably sickening photomontage that pretty much sums up the relationship between Celeste (Jones) and Jesse (Samberg). Then goes on to show an average day for the two. After getting off work, Celeste, a successful trend-caster for a LA marketing company, spends the entire day hanging out and cracking jokes with her not so successful best friend and soon-to-be ex-husband, Jesse. On top of spending every free moment together, it turns out they still live in the same house. Well, technically he lives in a studio attached to the back of her house because, even though he is a talented artist, he doesn’t have the motivation to get a job.
Their relationship might seem strange to the audience — because it is. Typically when people go through a divorce they can’t stand the sight of one another, but these high-school sweethearts act as if nothing has changed — because it really hasn’t. Or at least not yet.
The film really takes off when Jesse decides to move on, get a job, and start a life with a woman who isn’t Celeste. The circumstances surrounded by this sudden change are a little far-fetched, but because we are so invested in these characters, we are able to suspend any disbelief and just go with it.
The beautiful thing about this film, besides the cinematography, is that even though the story is told from Celeste’s point of view we are never forced to pick a side. The film shows them both make mistakes and deal with the grief that comes as a result of those mistakes.
Love isn’t always enough to keep a relationship together, even when we think it is, and this honest film shows that sometimes it’s necessary to let go, maybe not completely, but enough to move on.Contact Danielle Austin.