Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Celeste and Jesse Forever

Celeste and Jesse Forever - **

Directed by:  Lee Toland Krieger

Starring: Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg

Review:  Relationships aren’t easy.  They aren’t always meet-cute, will-they-won’t-they, they do!, and live happily ever after ordeals that many romantic comedies would have us believe.  They are often times messy, require compromise, and have to be a part of peoples lives and not its definition.

Celeste and Jesse are two people who have defined themselves by each other and their relationship.  They started dating, fell in love, got married, then divorced but still basically live together and spend every waking moment with each other.  In one of the opening scenes they are finally confronted by their friends about how they still act like they’re married even though they’re divorced.  It’s clear neither has moved on.

Celeste is a woman who has a great job, is successful and fancies herself a grown up.  Jesse is a man who is unemployed, still pursuing his “dream” of being an artist, and takes much pride in the fact that he’s not very grown up.

We learn Celeste initiated the divorce based on Jesse’s immaturity and refusal to find work and contribute.  She is trying to push him forward by pushing him away.

We learn that Jesse is comfortable in his life, that he is fine with not being the breadwinner, and will, at some point, find his way into a job or steady work.  He is trying to hang around long enough that Celeste figures out her mistake and takes him back for the loving, slightly immature, man that he is.

Neither truly wants to leave each other, but is closing their eyes and quietly wishing for change without making any change happen in their actual lives.  Celeste and Jesse are victims of their own generation.  Not knowing how to deal with change and growing up and how that all fits into a relationship.  

Many of their problems are of the “its not my fault” variety.  Both want things to be different blame for the other for not being so.  It’s not until they truly try to change things, spurred by external events, that the cracks in the foundation of their relationship are realized.

The further separated they become, the more Celeste learns that she shouldn’t have pushed Jesse away.  She admits her mistake but is forced to live with it as it’s already too late.  This is part of what differentiates ‘Celeste and Jesse Forever.’  It depicts their relationship as one of circumstance.  A victim of life and timing.  Not a preordained certainty by the rom-com gods.

Unfortunately, this also where the movie falls a little flat.  It meanders its way through its middle portion and never comes to a true resolution.  While some of that is intentional the execution is flawed enough to make the impact hardly felt.  

The movie tries to view relationships through the same painfully realistic lens that ‘(500) Days of Summer’ did, but isn’t nearly as successful.  The pain of going through a tough relationship can change someone but it ultimately feels like too much of a defining factor of the movie, as a part of the realistic life its trying to portray.  

Everyone is concerned about Celeste and Jesse.  Their relationship feels like it has to exist because of the title.  They do most of their struggling through other people and without even talking to each other.  As an audience we’re supposed to live vicariously through the characters, which is made all the more difficult when those characters are living their lives through others.

‘Celeste and Jesse Forever’ makes a valiant attempt to be different from the normal rom-com.  It has some promising parts but overall an un-sure hand fails to deliver and makes the film feel flat.  It’s too long and winds around too much without ever really getting to the point it’s trying to make.

While entertaining at moments, ‘Celeste and Jesse Forever’ is worth your time only for a rental.

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