Movie Reviews

‘Celeste and Jesse Forever’: Not your usual rom-com

By Wang DexianMovies - 05 October 2012 5:03 PM | Updated 08 October 2012

‘Celeste and Jesse Forever’: Not your usual rom-com

Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg play two people who met in high school, married young and are growing apart

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

With a title like ‘Celeste and Jesse Forever’, it’s easy to think that a happy movie is in order. And while the movie is funny and romantic; make no mistake; ‘Celeste and Jesse Forever’ is heart-breaking.

Enter Celeste and Jesse; life-long best friends turned spouses and who now find their relationship falling apart. But despite being separated and going through a divorce, the two of them still spend all their time together, something that freaks their best friends Beth and Tucker out. Celeste and Jesse still seem to adore each other, but Celeste doesn’t seem to think Jesse is mature enough to be her husband anymore, hence the divorce.

On the outside, it’s easy to see why they’re separating, Celeste is a successful business woman who works as a trend analyst, running her own media company with Scott (played hilariously by Elijah Wood). On the contrary, Jesse is happily unemployed; content to work on art pieces on a freelance basis. Urged on by their friends to move on, the two of them struggle to do so as they obviously still care for each other. This all changes when Jesse reveals that he’s about to father a son with Veronica, a woman he spent a night with during their separation.

‘Celeste and Jesse Forever’ is a pretty messy movie. It’s certainly funny in spurts with a very curious mix of ‘bro-stoner’ humour with chick-flick clichés. It’s very funny for a film that’s about the long, extended breakup of a couple. It’s also probably one of the most melancholic comedies that’ll you ever see.

Most importantly, it’s got Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg at the core of the story. The two of them share great chemistry on screen and it’s easy to revel in the joy and seemingly genuine pain the two of them go through in the film. Jones in particular, finally gets some major screen time in a leading role, proving to be able both hold her own with funny man Samberg and yet be able to convey her character’s flaws too.

Her character, Celeste is downright detestable at some points of the film but not in an overtly revolting manner. Samberg’s Jesse is very likable as the idealistic and vulnerable romantic who waits for Celeste to turn around but who has to eventually go his own way and step out of his ex-wife’s shadow. The pleasant pairing certainly does offset whatever offbeat eccentricities that the screenplay possesses, especially that long second act where it seems like the two of them are ready to move on but everyone else in the audience knows they’re not.

It’s not for lack of trying though; ‘Celeste and Jesse Forever’ is certainly different. It’s got a hip soundtrack, cool handheld camerawork and a rather smart script that tries to subvert and mock the very genre of film it belongs to.

Some would probably call such presentation pretentious but it does work to a certain extent. Much like ‘500 Days of Summer’, this movie focuses more on the problems that arise out of complicated relationships. It’s even got somewhat the same structure; a rom-com that starts near the end of the story and then tries to make sense of the events the led up to it.

‘Celeste and Jesse Forever’ isn’t as smart as it probably thinks it is ... but still, it’s a lot fresher and far more original than most romantic comedies Hollywood has been churning out lately.

The flawed multi-dimensional characters and the many obstacles they have to go through are very appreciated in this study of the love and bond between two people. Although it’s a little messy, ‘Celeste and Jesse Forever’ rise through with a mix of entertaining humour and a heartfelt sadness. It’s really like a sad love song that plays out on screen, but somehow manages to end on a satisfying note nevertheless.

‘Celeste and Jesse Forever’ open in theatres 4 October 2012