Celeste And Jesse Forever (2012)

Untitled-1Celeste And Jesse Forever begs the question: “What happens when a married couple realises that they are better off being best friends?” Do they separate? Probably. But being best friends after you’ve shared six years of what I’m assuming is a loving marriage can’t possibly be an easy thing to accomplish. True enough, that’s exactly what Celeste and Jesse discover, much to their horror.

When we first see them, they’ve already been apart six months, but they’re still around each other everyday and they behave as if it’s still their honeymoon (Jesse actually lives in the studio behind Celeste’s house). Rashida Jones — who co-wrote the script and plays Celeste — and Andy Samberg (Jesse) are quite honestly a lovely couple. The rapport they share is smooth, silky, and easy. They’ve reached that point in their lives where they can be happy in each other’s company without feeling the need to fornicate. And when they do feel the need to fornicate, or apply some hand cream, they take it out on little lotion tubes by simulating rather obscene self-pleasuring gestures.

They are polar opposites, and their relationship pushes the boundaries of the phrase “opposites attract”. Yes, they do attract. It is evident in their chemistry. But at what point does the attraction lose its magnetism? Celeste is an ambitious soul, eager to climb the ranks of her career. She’s focused and wants the most out of life, love, and her marriage. Jesse is a bum, an out of work artist who believes in passivity. He takes no initiative, and cries while watching overweight men carry weights at the Olympics. It should come as no shock, then, that Celeste is the one who calls for the separation.

But all this is in the past. What matters is where Celeste and Jesse are now, and what happens when moving on isn’t as easy as it seems. There is strange irony: Celeste initiates the break up, but she is the one who is left behind, struggling to cope with the loss of her soulmate. Jesse moves on quicker — or so he would have us believe — and comes off looking like the bad guy on a couple of occasions.

There is no happy ending, and in that respect, Jones and co-writer Will McCormack do well with the script. What is lacking for me, though, is a sense of continuity and cohesion. Many of the incidents that occur throughout the film reminded me of moments from When Harry Met Sally…, but without the emotional punch. Perhaps it’s because a number of the movie’s characters are too thinly formulated, and come off looking like shells inhabited by rom-com characters of old. Paul (Chris Messina), for example — Celeste’s phony Yoga classmate — is an archetypal meathead, who inevitably wins her heart because deep down inside he’s an awesome guy.

The story is good, and quite affecting, but ultimately it is weakened by underdeveloped secondary characters and cliched moments that don’t hold up under fire. Just look at Emma Roberts’ rising pop star, Riley Banks, and the air-headed stereotype Rupert (Rafi Gavron). Their existence within the world of the story is merely to fall in love with each other. Air-head meets air-head. And then they are no longer significant. If their fleeting presence means anything, it might be that nothing in this world is concrete. Not even marriage. Sooner or later, all things must pass. For Celeste and Jesse, they know that all things will pass, but it’s letting them pass that’s the hardest challenge life could ever dish out to them.

Best Moment | Celeste and Jesse deciding what to order from the menu in what I can only guess is an exaggerated Swedish accent. Not only is it funny, it shows perfectly how suited the two are to each other.

Worst Moment | The big hoo-ha caused by the apparent “penis entering an anus” logo on Riley Banks’ CD cover. Come on, it’s not that obvious, and no way would it have stirred such controversy.

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