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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 19, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Accent

Review: ‘Celeste and Jesse Forever’ strikes viewers with realistic romantic plot

Hollywood’s version of a romantic comedy is often portrayed unrealistically. However, the offbeat and heart-wrenching film “Celeste and Jesse Forever” combines the perfect amount of wit and raw emotional drama to create a film that feels like a pragmatic romantic comedy.

The film begins with a photomontage cataloguing the history of Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse’s (Andy Samberg) seemingly perfect relationship — that is, until it is revealed that the couple is in the middle of a divorce. In an odd twist, Jesse still lives next door to Celeste in his studio, and the pair remain best friends.

The cinematography helps to accentuate the actors’ emotions without coming off as too heavy-handed. An example of this is when the film gradually blurs while Celeste takes in Jesse’s sudden news that he’s dating someone. The camera work is an artistic way of changing the tone of the film from lighthearted to dark.

Jones shines in this role, playing a quietly heartbroken woman in a way that truly touches the soul. Oddly, it is in the more lighthearted moments that Jones falls short. When telling jokes, she is awkward and forced. In contrast, Samberg disappoints during his many emotional scenes. When trying to express any emotion other than happiness, he looks uncomfortable. Even Elijah Wood, who is horribly cast as Scott, Celeste’s flamboyantly gay best friend and business partner, is unable to deliver his lines naturally.

But at the core, this movie is a love story with realistic issues audiences don’t usually see in today’s romantic movies. Celeste and Jesse’s relationship is not a classic love story, but a loving, witty friendship. This, coupled with the excellent writing, makes up for the main characters’ lackluster acting and is enough to separate this bittersweet romantic comedy from the pack.

Overall rating: 2 ½ stars

“Celeste and Jesse” forever chronicles two friends, Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg)’s friendly, quirky divorce process.

Evin Billington can be reached at ebillin1@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @EvinBillington