Celeste and Jesse Forever - Review
Review by Rob Carnevale
WHILE it’s great to find a romantic comedy drama that’s willing to subvert expectations at every turn, Celeste and Jesse Forever still has its work cut out in convincing audiences it’s as independently spirited as it thinks it is.
For starters, product placement (for Apple in particular) runs amok, which somewhat undermines its indie credentials, while the characters at play also require a lot of patience to really warm to.
The screenplay, by Rashida Jones and Will McCormack, is as smart and humorous as it is prone to being a little too smug and hip for its own good, thereby also making its audience work hard.
Things start out amicably as Celeste (Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg) appear to be the perfect couple… until, that is, two best friends point out that spending time in their company is weird because their on the cusp of getting a divorce.
Thereafter, the film focuses on how they attempt to move on – slowly, in Jesse’s case. And whether Celeste may come to realise that Jesse really is the man for her before it’s too late.
To be fair, Lee Toland Krieger’s film is consistently intriguing because of its decision to spend most of its time in the aftermath of a relationship and how it’s sometimes not as easy to let go as two people might think.
But by opting not to choose sides and depict each character with flaws, the film also runs the risk of making the characters difficult to root for. Celeste, in particular, is too knowing for her own good at times, while Jesse is completely her opposite and a complete slacker prone to avoiding responsibility.
The arc of their story has a certain predictability to it as well, although the conclusion does at least feel emotionally true.
Performance-wise, both Jones and Samberg shine (no matter what you might think of their characters), while there’s good support from Chris Messina, Eric Christian Olsen, Ari Graynor and Elijah Wood.
And there’s a comical side-story involving a bratty pop star (well played by Emma Roberts) who Celeste finds herself having to babysit. But this also highlights a certain hypocrisy within the film itself, given that it boasts a defiantly independent spirit and yet is happy to comply with shameless product placement at all times.
Hence, while Celeste and Jesse Forever has plenty to admire, it’s never as completely engaging or as successful as it thinks it is.
Running time: 92mins
UK Release Date: December 7, 2012