CELESTE AND JESSE FOREVER
Written by Rashida Jones and Will McCormack
Directed by Lee Toland Krieger
Starring Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg
Celeste: People let you down; I know that. But knowing that makes it impossible to be happy.
There is something about Rashida Jones that has always rubbed me the wrong way. I’ve always wanted to like her. She seems amiable enough and she’s always popping up in choice projects, but I’ve always found her to be somewhat stiff and distant. Not overly so but just enough to keep me at bay from her, and unfortunately, sometimes the project. Perhaps she just needed the right film or the right director to come along. With CELESTE AND JESSE FOREVER, she explodes out of that shell I’ve always felt has been holding her back. Apparently, all she had to do was sit down and write that project for herself.
CELESTE AND JESSE FOREVER is the latest in a string of impressive indie comedies this year and it is quite possibly my favourite of the bunch. Not only does Jones come alive on screen for the first time here, but her character spoke to me in a more direct fashion than most have in quite some time. Jones plays Celeste, one half of the titular couple. The other half, Jesse, is played with a surprising and welcome amount of sensitivity by “Saturday Night Live” alum, Andy Samberg. When we meet them, through a creatively cut opening credits still photography montage, we can see that they’ve known each other forever, that they are unbelievably adorable together and that their marriage may just have what it takes to make it. Shortly afterward, we learn that they are actually in the process of getting divorced and just trying to figure out how to salvage the friendship that means so much to them. This is hardly the premise of the romantic comedy we’ve all grown accustomed to.
The beauty of CELESTE AND JESSE FOREVER is how honest it is with its audience. These two clearly need to let go of each other and have absolutely no idea how to accomplish this. This triggers, at least in me it did, a hope for the two of them to find their way back into each others’ hearts again. As life does its part to push them further away from each other though, we start to see other possibilities for them, all the while though still hoping they work it out. And as we start to see all the reasons why this split may have actually been a good idea, something almost entirely unheard of in a romantic comedy starts to happen. Instead of wanting everything to wrap up neatly and see this couple we’ve been rooting for get back together, it is their individual happiness that becomes what we want most for them in the end. If that means they work it out, great! If it doesn’t though, it doesn’t matter because what Celeste and Jesse have is truly timeless, no matter what form it takes.