Release Date: Sept. 12, 2013
Running Time: 90 minutes
Can men and women ever be just friends? With Drinking Buddies, writer/director Joe Swanberg asks the same question director Rob Reiner and screenwriter Nora Ephron posed with 1989’s When Harry Met Sally…. Unlike Reiner and Ephron, Swanberg doesn’t examine the friendship between the two drinking buddies in question through rose-tinted glasses. Or beer goggles, for that matter. Drinking Buddies is a clear-headed look at the separate love lives of a man and a woman whom we initially believe deserve to be both friends and lovers. Olivia Wilde’s Kate and Jake Johnson’s Luke work at a Chicago craft brewery. They spend as much time together in the evening and on the weekend as they do with their significant others. Kate’s dating Ron Livingston’s unexciting Chris; Luke lives with Anna Kendrick’s perky Jill. If you saw Kate and Luke hanging at a bar, you would immediately assume that they are deeply in love by how close and comfortable they appear to be with each other. Kate doesn’t have that bond with Chris. Luke is emotionally connected to Jill, but he’s hesitant about getting married. All’s well until something happens that, to the discerning eye, seems to indicate that Swanberg wants to push Kate and Luke into each other’s arms. It certainly complicates matters but not necessarily in the expected way. Drinking Buddies isn’t a romantic comedy that is content to revel in the clichés of a genre that too often indulges in the fantasies of lonely singletons. Swanberg is just as interested in the reasons why Kate and Luke should remain buddies, and how they can maintain their friendship, as he is with the reasons why they should enjoy a happily ever after together. Just because Kate and Luke seem to be a good match doesn’t necessarily make them a good match, Swanberg wants us to consider this while we will them together. The sense of intimacy between Wilde and Johnson is evident from the first time we see them palling around. It’s the hook that draws us into trying to understand and appreciate a friendship that could easily be misconstrued by those unfamiliar with this non-couple. If When Harry Me Sally … saw the relationship between men and woman in purely black-and-white terms, Drinking Buddies refuses to ignore the shades of gray that invariably complicate matters to no end. Raise a glass to that.
Aired: Sept. 11, 2013
Web site: http://www.magpictures.com/drinkingbuddies/