Celeste and Jesse Forever – Film Review

It’s not perfect, but it’s wonderfully real and funny, and that’s all that should count. An excellent addition to and would-be influence on the genre of female-driven romantic dramedies.

Rashida Jones co-writes and stars in this film, and I can see how it could be polarizing. Shot in 22 days, director Lee Toland Krieger worked on a tight budget with strong actors and put together a film that tries its hardest to be incredibly realistic, an effort to be commended. However, on some minor level, it fails to reach that sense of total realism that other films like Young Adult have reached. Initially, I believed it to be Andy Samberg‘s performance, but upon reflection, I think it could be one of four things–the rhythm/pacing of the performances in general, underlying faults in an almost-there script (which could also very well be all-the-way-there), the rhythm/pacing of the direction, or the pacing present in the editing. It might be more than one, but I’d assume not. Regardless, the film is better (and funnier) than a whole bunch of other female-driven dramedies out there, so I’d definitely recommend the film. I’m just nitpicking.

The plot centers around Celeste (Rashida Jones), a controlling, smart, capable woman in the midst of a too-friendly separation with her best friend, man-boy Jesse (Andy Samberg), which turns less friendly when Jesse begins dating, and two big surprises are dumped on her lap, one at work (by her co-worker, played by Elijah Wood, in the form of a bratty pop star played well by Emma Roberts) and one at home ([SPOILER]). Chris Messina, Will McCormack, Matthew Del Negro, Ari Graynor, Eric Christian Olsen, and Rafi Gavron also get to have fun playing small roles that factor into the plot at various times.

What’s nice about the characters, and the performances therein, is that they feel incredibly real, like they could definitely be someone you know, and this could really be something that happens to them. Celeste is at times unlikable, and Rashida Jones isn’t afraid to play her like that, but at other times, she is also immensely relatable, wonderful, likable and human. Jesse is lazy and unmotivated, but he’s also funny, talented and growing into responsibility, slowly but surely. Paul, played by Chris Messina, isn’t a perfect man, but he’s not a caricature either, nor is Emma Roberts’ Riley Banks. They have layers, like everyone does. The fact that the film is unafraid to present all of these characters as unabashedly and sometimes unlikably human is courageous, noble and beautiful. It’s a great trend in a genre like romance films, which tend to be generic, formulaic and, frankly, stupid.

The message is great as well, with the absolutely brilliant ending serving as a great reminder as to why it’s so great. Most films would cop out of an ending like that. Not this one. And that made the entire movie so much better. What’s the ending?

You’ll have to go see it for yourself to find out.

About Dylan Visvikis

Dylan Visvikis is a working screenwriter and director in Los Angeles. View all posts by Dylan Visvikis

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