Monday, 26 August 2013

film review: celeste & jesse forever

Celeste & Jesse Forever (2012)
Director:  Lee Toland Krieger
Starring: Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Emma Roberts,
Genre: Romantic Comedy/Drama
Rating: 8/10

A divorcing couple tries to maintain their friendship while they both pursue other people.

Every so often I'll be browsing through Netflix looking for something mindless to watch and I'll stumble across something perfect. It's not that the movie itself is perfect but it is just right for the mood I'm in. I'd heard about this when it first came out but it didn't get a wide release here so I didn't get the chance to see it in the cinema. In some ways that's a real shame - I would have happily paid to see the film and these visuals must have looked GORGEOUS on a big screen - but there's a part of me that was glad to be able to sit and watch it at home and appreciate some of its quietness.

I haven't been in a relationship or gone through a break-up in a long time and so I didn't have an intense ~this is my life~ connection to the film - I haven't married young or ever drank ranch dressing out of the bottle and I don't use drugs and booze to manage my depression ad yet in spite of all the ways in which my life and my nature differs from Celeste's, I became really invested in her and her happiness. Rashida Jones co-wrote the script and it shows in all the complexity of the character - the plot of the movie is based around the mourning process that Celeste goes through as she divorces her best friend and Celeste is treated with compassion by the script but it allows her to be self-destructive and unlikeable and then has her become aware of these tendencies.

I've been thinking about marriage a lot recently, partly because my dissertation is about divorce and partly because I have grandparents who think I'm pathetic for not being married at 24 and so it was really interesting to me to see how marriage and relationships were portrayed. Divorce is used as a framing device by the film but more interestingly is used by the characters who at once assimilate and disconnect their relationship and their marriage. The whole film is based around the premise that they've initiated divorce proceedings before they've 'broken up' and Celeste coming to realise that you can't just have the same relationship but call it something different. It was refreshing to watch a movie explore the idea that you can be in a romantic relationship with your best friend which is built on history and love and an abundance of affection and it still not be right. I loved that it was willing to look at all the unattractive and destructive ways in which we construct out whole lives around other people - about how we are defined by our relationships. I loved how much time was spent on the ideas of the need for effort and self-awareness in relationships, about being willing to make sacrifices but also knowing your limits and the limits of the other person.

Finally, (and most predictably) I loved the way this movie looked! I liked all of the aesthetics - there were some great music choices - but the DP David Lanzenburg really gets me! There were silhouettes and lens flares, all these beautiful colours and some really really excellent faces!

Overall I really liked Celeste & Jesse Forever! Though it was a little melancholy it was never bleak. It was thoughtful and stylish and definitely worth an hour and a half of your time!

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