"Celeste and Jesse Forever"
Release Date: Aug. 24, 2012
Running Time: 91 minutes
What if Harry and Sally decided to split up? That’s the premise behind Celeste and Jesse Forever, a hit-and-miss dramedy that asks whether a separated couple can remain best friends. Park and Recreation’s Rashida Jones is Celeste, a successful trend analyst who sees no future in her marriage to Andy Samberg’s man-child Jesse. This doesn’t mean that they don’t hang out every second of the day—in the beginning, Celeste and Jesse Forever does a great job tricking us into believing that they are inseparable soul mates who know each other better than anyone else do. Six months after Celeste initiates divorce proceedings, things begin to get complicated when Jesse decides to start dating. Written by Jones and Will McCormack, and directed by Lee Toland Krieger, Celeste and Jesse Forever begins as smart, witty and insightful look at the lengths to which people will go to maintain a long and presumably lasting friendship that’s buckling under the intense pressure of divorce, even one that’s amicable. Celeste and Jesse initially receive equal time, with Jones and McCormack offering a revealing peek inside the minds of two people who are trying their best to handle the pain and confusion that is caused by this mutual life-altering event. The emphasis shifts midway through the film to Celeste when Jesse breaks some big news. At this point, Celeste and Jesse Forever loses interest in Jesse and only concerns itself with Celeste’s reaction and the inner reflection it provokes. Our perception of Celeste immediately changes. What we once considered Celeste’s greatest virtues—her ambitions and forthrightness—suddenly become her fatal flaws. Not only do Jones, McCormack, and Krieger endeavor to make Celeste unlikable, they seem intent on shifting all the blame on the marriage’s failure to Celeste. Jesse’s personal and professional failures can be traced back to Celeste. Yes, the whole point of this is to see whether Celeste recognizes her shortcomings and is willing to change, but the film desperately tries to turn us against her for some unfathomable reason. As good as Jones is as Celeste, she seems to despise her as much as she wants us to. She has chemistry with Samberg, but as with That’s My Boy, Celeste and Jesse Forever reveals that the former Saturday Night Live member is best experienced in small doses on the big screen. He’s a rubber-faced goofball who fails to articulate the emotional turmoil that grips Jesse. Unfortunately, Samberg’s inability to handle the drama of the situation makes it more obvious that the decision to transform Celeste into a white-collar she-devil is both inexplicable and demeaning.
Aired: Aug. 23, 2012
Web site: http://sonyclassics.com/celesteandjesseforever/