"Celeste and Jesse Forever" Will Last That Long in Your Heart
"Celeste and Jesse Forever" is the tale of a couple who were friends before they became lovers. They get married. You would think happiness would follow but youth has a tendency to wrestle itself out of the ties that bind. Feeling that marriage was a mistake both Celeste and Jesse file for divorce.
Written by Rashida Jones, who also stars as Celeste, and Will McCormack "Celeste and Jesse Forever" is an interesting study of mutual love, bad timing and the reluctant acceptance of adult responsibility. What carries this movie through is Ms. Jones’ wonderful rapport with Andy Samberg who plays Jesse. The opening scenes reveal how pleasurable the two find each other’s company and it comes as a surprise to learn that they are in the middle of a divorce. Happily married couples should have as much fun as they do. Celeste is the bread winner who owns the house. She allows Jesse, who is a struggling artist, to live in the back in the garage. She doesn’t ask Jesse for rent and encourages his pursuit of artistic achievement. Their closeness amid divorce proceedings turn off their best friends Beth and Tucker (Ari Graynor and Eric Christian Olsen), who are engaged to each other and believe that divorce should be laced with malice.
The story shifts to another gear when Jesse strikes up romance with an old acquaintance, Veronica (Rebecca Dayan) and unintentionally gets her pregnant. The harmony of their friendship is shattered. Jesse is forced to move out of the garage and "get a real job" to support his new predicament. Celeste, either comfortable with their status quo or waiting for the relationship to ripen, is heartbroken. Being left behind on the couples’ scene Celeste jumps into the dating arena. Psychologically unprepared her encounters with undesirable dates are comic but when she encounters a decent guy, Paul (Chris Messina), her rejection of him adds to the drama.
Both Ms. Jones and Mr. Samberg have an incredible ability to control the temperature of their relationship. Their rapport is undeniable and it makes them endearing. But when the manure hits the propellers their pettiness and jealousy make them human. After Jesse informs Celeste of the pregnancy you can see the game of spurned lovers playing in their heads. Ms. Jones is charismatic and funny in her earlier scenes as a young up and coming woman who couldn’t ask for a better start in life- a job she wants and is good at, landing a major client which will keep her moving up the corporate ladder and a best friend to lean on. But when confronted with an act of betrayal (not really a betrayal in a relationship without any set upon boundaries) Ms. Jones embodies the hurt, anger and confusion that grip her when her world begins to crumble. Mr. Samberg is convincing with his sense of confusion and guilt that he has hurt his best friend. He does a good job of showing the uncertainty mixed with happiness about starting a family but not with the woman he wanted to start one with.
Ms. Jones and Mr. McCormack along with the director Lee Toland Krieger show what is all to prevalent among individuals and couples. There is an undesirable stigma that attaches itself to singles that will force them to date and enter relationships that they are not ready or suited for. They also do a good job at showing how the single person (Celeste) feels like she’s the loser for being single and how it affects her behavior. They keep the drama interesting by adding small scenes that might resurrect their relationship from the hurt and confusion. Of course alcohol is involved and the next morning brings back harsh reality.
"Celeste and Jesse Forever" is a movie that touches on a rare subject- two friends who love each other but cannot live happily ever after with each other. There is always the possibility that they will end up back together at the end. But the movie ends the way it should with a small but sweet twist.