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Celeste and Jesse Forever (2012)

Josh Reviews Celeste and Jesse Forever

September 24th, 2012
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What a fantastically enjoyable surprise this little movie was!  A romantic (but not really romantic) drama that is very funny (but which I wouldn’t really call a comedy), Celeste and Jesse Forever is a wonderful little film for adults.  It’s somewhat raunchy and juvenile but also remarkably sophisticated and unexpected, eschewing the usual romantic comedy formula for something a little messier, a little rougher-around-the-edges.  I loved it!

The film was written by Rashida Jones (who made her bones on The Office and is now a part of the spectacular ensemble on Parks and Recreation) and her friend Will McCormack (check out this article that explores the pair’s relationship, much of which served as an inspiration for the film’s story), and stars Ms. Jones as the titular Celeste and SNL’s Andy Samberg as Jesse.

Rashida Jones was instantly terrific on The Office, and she’s been pretty great in some supporting film roles recently (such as I Love You, Manclick here for my review, and My Idiot Brotherclick here for my review), so it’s great fun to see her take a leading role.  She’s spectacular, able to be extremely funny while also able to absolutely convincingly sell the film’s dramatic moments.  But she’s been great in everything I just mentioned, so this isn’t a huge surprise.  What is a surprise is how fantastic Andy Samberg is.  Of course it was clear he could be funny, but I think he gives a terrific performance creating a very fleshed-out character in Jesse.  He knows when to flash his huge grin, but he dials back his zaniness to just the right level, creating a character who is a lovable goofball but very much a human being.  When it comes to the dramatic moments, he’s every bit Ms. Jones’ equal.  I love their chemistry in the film — I could watch these two actors play off of one another all day long.  There are some early moments between the two that are so funny (their weird German-accented menu-reading, and of course their off-color lip-balm routine) that it’s pretty impossible not to buy into the idea that these two are soul-mates, made for one another.  Which of course is the point.  Which makes the fact that the film is all about their NOT being together all the more agonizing.  Which, again, is sort of the point.

Obviously I’m not going to spoil the ending (well, at least not before my big spoiler warning a few paragraphs from now), but I am not ruining anything to note that five minutes into the film we learn that Celeste and Jesse are very much not together as a couple.  What follows … [continued]