You know that couple who are nauseatingly perfect for each other? Their inside jokes, the way they finish one another’s sentences… it’s no doubt they will be together forever.
That’s Celeste and Jesse. Yet they’re divorced.
Rashida Jones and Will McCormack wrote a very funny and relatable, yet poignant and honest, script showing how “forever” changes once you’re not married (to each other) anymore.
I think we all know at least one divorced or broken up couple who still hang out as though nothing in their relationship has changed. Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg) explore that. The two have such insanely great chemistry throughout the film that you don’t think they are just actors acting. They think their friendship can continue as usual, “forever,” but soon life interferes.
Both Celeste and Jesse start to date other people, though secretly want each other back. But the timing is off. Soon, Jesse learns that a date from months ago is pregnant and he wants to be the best husband and father he can be. He starts to become responsible and focus on his art work again, something he had not done in a long time; his previous slacker attitude and lack of ambition is what bothered the very driven Celeste. Celeste likes the new Jesse she sees, though it is bittersweet since she is no longer the one his “forever” will be with. As one would assume, Celeste and Jesse go from spending almost every minute together (he lives in her guest house at film’s beginning) to barely seeing each other at all. As the film goes on, Celeste and Jesse must learn to let go of each other, no matter how much they want to resist it.
It is lovely to see Rashida carry a movie, and equally nice to see Andy play more serious notes onscreen for a change – and we believe him. Director Lee Toland Krieger does such an excellent job conveying the characters’ emotions that we are never pulled out of the story. We may question why a certain subplot exists, like Emma Roberts playing one of Celeste’s marketing clients, a bratty pop star who eventually befriends Celeste, or Elijah Wood playing a stereotypical gay co-worker trying to be funny as well as set Celeste up on dates… But we dismiss these things because the primary story is so engaging.
Lee Toland Krieger also reveals L.A. as an enchanting character in and of itself, from downtown geographical icons like the Walt Disney Concert Hall to chiding L.A. diets when Jesse orders a seaweed specialty dish at a very Zen restaurant garden and Celeste no longer recognizes him.
For most – okay, all – of the movie, I was rooting for Celeste and Jesse to reunite in the end, as was most of the 1,270-seat Eccles Theater in Park City (judging by the Q&A afterwards). But fate had other plans. We learn that although Celeste and Jesse may not be together forever, romantically, nothing will ever tear them apart – friendship-wise.
During the Q&A, the director revealed that Rashida and Andy did date before, years ago, when she was a rising star and Andy was an unemployed comic. Writing teachers always say, “Write what you know,” and I think Rashida and Will did an excellent job doing so in this film.
Don’t miss the very relatable Celeste and Jesse Forever, which will be distributed by Sony Pictures Classics later this summer.