The Monocle – “Celeste and Jesse Forever”

Directed by: Lee Toland Krieger
Written by: Rashida Jones & Will McCormack
Released: August 3, 2012
Theatre watched at: Arclight Cinemas, Hollywood

Rashida Jones is hot. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way;  I know that this particular review is quite late in reference to the release date of this movie (I hadn’t seen it myself until last Sunday), but I feel the need to review it because I understand that this has a limited release and is probably not in many of the “mainstream” theatres near you. Oh, and also because the movie isn’t half bad!

Is it just me, or have the narratives of break-ups and heartbreak become more of an interest to audiences than the stories of new and found love nowadays? “Celeste and Jesse Forever” is about a married couple who have been separated for 6 months and are going through a divorce, but unlike the usual bickering and loathing that couples have for each other during this phase, Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg), act as if they have gone from “husband and wife” back down to “best friends forever” in one step (Imagine seeing that status change on Facebook). While their friends are weirded out by this behavior, Celeste and Jesse seem completely content. That is… until Jesse reveals he has already, sort of, kind of, fallen for and been sleeping with someone else. Did someone forget the lid on their blender? Because sh*t just hit the fan.

The greatest success of this movie is the amount of charm it is able to muster with its raunchy and witty humor against an overly serious tone, which is actually its weakness. Think of it like if Judd Apatow had co-directed “50/50” with Jonathan Levine. If you were to watch the film without sound, the look of the film throughout would make you think you were watching a serious drama- washed out colors, a lot of intimate, indie-like camera work. Turn the volume up, and you’ll laugh till your sides hurt, but it immediately pushes you back into stern mode, which is a bit frustrating. It’s evident that they want us to take the material as grounded in reality as possible, but a marital matter such as divorce isn’t something you exactly immediately picture laughter with; the atmosphere doesn’t set up or aid the humor as smoothly as it could have.

 Feast your eyes on these delectable snapshots of the Arclight on Sunset Blvd.!

Aside from that flaw, I really like this movie. Like I said, the humor is smart with spurts of restrained vulgarity that Jones and Samberg are skilled at executing. On the dramatic side, Jones proves herself to be a worthy leading lady, convincingly mixing her comedic moments with the struggles of her character. Samberg doesn’t do quite as good a job in the drama department, but I can see why they casted him, he makes a great pair with Jones and looks the part; I was seriously waiting for him to Lonely Island-ize the place by bursting into song after being in bed with Rashida Jones- who wouldn’t? Another great part of the cast is Elijah Wood who definitely did not have enough screen time! He plays Celeste’s gay, close friend and company partner who shows concern for her throughout the film but only gets a few one-liners. He could have been gold if they gave him more material.

We will all experience what it’s like to be in love. *cue the violin* Very few of us will get it the first time. All too much we forget that love isn’t just about finding the things you like about another, but also being able to understand and accept the things you don’t like. This movie address that dilemma with mindful perspective, care and truth. It pretty much starts where romedies don’t dare to go- what happens after the happy ending? This is no “500 Days of Summer,” but it’s still a humorous, more reality-grounded film than any other romedy as of recent, although some may find this mix to have some friction.