Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

“Celeste and Jesse Forever” realistically portray relationships


It’s a dream situation for most: Best friends who become lovers.

But with this crowning achievement comes a dilemma; can the two relationships coincide peacefully?

The film “Celeste and Jesse Forever” confronts this complex problem in a quirky yet believable way. Celeste (Rashida Jones) is the stereotypical, uptight successful business woman; a trend researcher who is almost too smart for her own good.

Jesse (Andy Samberg) is the goofball (not a stretch from his past work). He’s a surfer dude who is artistically talented, but not quite ready to grow up.

The two together form a dynamic duo, a seemingly perfect balance of immature interests, including masturbating to inanimate objects (yes, this happens more than once) and speaking in absurd accents.

The film takes the viewer on a roller coaster ride. From the start, the audience is led to believe that these two inseparable people are in fact a married couple. Shortly after the film begins, the audience finds out that the two are not actually a couple.

While on a double date with their friends, Beth (Ari Graynor) and Tucker (Eric Christian Olsen), it’s revealed that Jesse and Celeste are actually divorced.

Based in Los Angeles we see that the lives of Celeste and Jesse have not changed from that of a married couple, other than the “married” part. Jesse resides in an art studio, 10 feet from where Celeste calls home and is able to wake up, glance out and see what her “ex-husband” is doing.

Obviously, they’ve moved on.

Written by Jones and Will McCormack and directed by Lee Toland Krieger, this film documents the scary concept of letting go, as well as the universal human quest for independence and happiness.

There’s also conflict, sparked by a drunken night of IKEA desk. The scene shows that Jesse still feels something for Celeste.

But, as the saying goes, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. There is never a dull moment in this film, especially when a shocking surprise forces the two to separate, finding Celeste (for once) questioning herself and her choices, possibly realizing that she may not always be right, or ready to let go.

We see Jesse come into his own element, or so we think. Appearances are deceiving, and he serves as proof that the safe way isn’t always the best way. This role switch spawns Celeste into a life crisis, brilliantly captured in such a human and relatable way, as she takes her confusion out in excessive exercising, having more than a few beers and a nice bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch.

Don’t lie; we’ve all used one of these as an escape from a break-up.

Well, maybe not the dressing.

“Celeste and Jesse Forever” includes that “uh-oh” moment where nothing seems to make sense in life. The tailspin is often times trigged by lost love. The question that is pondered in this film is when is it time to loosen the grip and finally let go?

Aside from biting humor and a witty script, the ensemble cast only enhances these qualities. Elijah Wood is the token best friend, adding moments of dry humor laced with randomly placed inappropriate statements with a “did he really just say that” comedic effect.

Emma Roberts adds spice as a sassy pop star who Celeste proceeds to offend several times, but ultimately finds a common ground with “boy troubles.”

Adding another creative layer to this film is the cinematography. Krieger’s unique use of depth of field and dark, antique lighting fulfill the stereotypical “indie” film look (in a good way). These techniques only enhance the realness that the screenplay produces. Combined with a winning soundtrack, including catchy tunes from artists Sunny Levine and Lily Allen, the tone is well portrayed.

Walking away from this film, the audience can see that marriage is hard, but friendship and life are even more complex. The deep bond between two people who are so connected to one another is portrayed realistically, with all of the ups and downs. Although it depicts this all in what many would consider to be an unhealthy manner, what struck me about this film was its complete acceptance to take on societal issues, such as divorce.

The characters aren’t the best role models, nor are they expected to be, but they are human, and this film nonetheless has a positive message of self-discovery and friendship.

You’ll leave having laughed, possibly cried and wishing you had your own Celeste or Jesse in your life.

Allison Ludtke  can be reached at [email protected].

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