Written by Rashida Jones and Will McCormack and directed by Lee Toland Krieger, Celeste and Jesse Forever is a film about modern love and not wanting to be sorry.
The film opens with Celeste (Rashida Jones) a Trend Forecaster and Jesse (Andy Samberg), an artist, driving Downtown in easy livin’ Los Angeles, singing in unison to Lily Allen’s Littlest Things.
They banter in ridiculous voices, talk about work, play fight and argue affectionately. It is a realistic dynamic of a modern relationship with all its practicalities and ugly facial expressions. At least it seems that way, until at dinner their friend Beth (Ari Graynor) confronts them, “What the fuck are you two doing?” she’s no longer able to play along like everything is normal – Celeste and Jesse have been separated for six months and they are getting a divorce.
What follows is messy, as the film chronicles the post break-up, pre-divorce relationship between Celeste and Jesse. Both heavily grounded in the notion of their friendship, what they had labelled as the “the perfect break-up” quickly crumbles as both Jesse and Celeste struggle to maintain their state of emotional denial and their consequential sobriety.
Things get really humiliating, really fast. There’s riffling through an ex’s garbage, some stalking, and no great break up story would ever be complete without foraying into a series of regrettable drunken decisions. It paints a pretty accurate picture of how love can make us pathetic and nasty, “You’re ridiculous. This place is ridiculous. Fucking cashew-vegan-kelp bullshit.”
Celeste and Jesse Forever doesn’t belong in the category of Hollywood romance (there is zero eyelid batting and no, they don’t get back together) however there are some of the traditional conventions of this genre to hook us. There is a public apology, a soundtrack of old classics, a wedding scene, and a lot of drifting focus by the camera in the golden light of afternoon.
This movie offers a refreshing look at what love looks like in your late twenties and early thirties. For the two of them marriage is no longer forever and what comes next is awkward and abstract, “I’m uncomfortable with dating and I don’t like any of it.”
The film is ultimately feel-good and immensely relatable. After all its looseness it ends comfortably, in bittersweet territory where the script knows when to be funny and when to be serious, much like the characters themselves.