Thursday, 30 June 2016

TBT - Celeste and Jesse Forever (2012)

You may have noticed that I recently changed my blog name. This is the third time I've done this since I started writing it. The first time was because, whilst in my final year of university, I chose the most pretentious name possible. Transcribing Thought was taken from the Marshall McLuhan quotation (yes, I'm that awful guy in the cinema queue in Annie Hall. I hate myself too.) "A typewriter is a means of transcribing thought, not expressing it." I thought it was deep and meaningful but it also didn't really tell you anything about my blog. The second name, Much Review About Nothing, satisfied my love of puns and Shakespeare whilst also sufficiently lowering people's expectations of my writing. Still, it didn't ever thing it fit the relaxed and sweary atmosphere I wanted here. It took ages to think of something I was happy enough with and, if I'm honest, I still don't think it'll stick. Still, it'll do for now unless anyone out there has any better ideas. Seriously, I need all the fucking help I can get.



To be honest with you, I never watched Celeste and Jesse Forever when it first came out because I'm a stubborn hater of all things of the rom-com genre. I just don't have time to watch awfully realised characters do exactly what I knew they were going to do from the start. Also, I didn't really know anything about Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg was just that silly guy from the SNL sketches. I really didn't think anything good could come of their union. However, after watching Popstar the other week and getting nostalgic feelings every time I see a Parks and Rec meme on Instagram, I decided it was time to see what all the fuss was about.

The Celeste and Jesse from the title have been best friends for years and, because this is Hollywood, they grew up, fell in love and got married. In the opening credits we see a cutesy montage of their life together. It sums up the idea that their relationship was perfect. Well, until it wasn't. The final scene in our pre-movie montage shows Celeste walking away from Jesse following a row. Turns out, when the film finally starts, that the pair couldn't make their marriage work and are now living a weird not-really-married marriage. Celeste taking residence in the couple's house whilst Jesse lives in his art studio behind the house. Why are they so close? Even after everything they're still best friends.

Probably sharing the opinion of most of the audience, Celeste and Jesse's friends are outraged by the strange set-up and try to convince the two to move on. That proves to be more difficult for Celeste than Jesse who soon discovers a one-night stand is pregnant with his child. Whilst her ex-husband grows up and prepares for fatherhood, Celeste is left wondering if she's made a massive mistake. She's not ready for dating and finds consumed with jealousy that not only has Jesse moved on but that he did it first. It's a very realistic portrayal of the one-upmanship displayed after a breakup.

The script, written by Rashida Jones and writing partner Will McCormack, is a pretty solid if not groundbreaking affair. It feels well grounded in the real-world and there is something in Celeste's post-relationship life that anyone who has gone through a break-up will realise. Despite knowing that the end of their relationship is probably for the best, neither are willing or able to admit that it's over. The pair themselves are complete opposites, because this is Hollywood, with Celeste being the controlling, ambitious one and Jesse being the relaxed, jokey one. The couple were doomed never to work but they have a undeniable connection that constantly draws them back together.

Both Jones and Andy Samberg are great as the leads and have a good enough chemistry on screen that you can see what the fuss is about. They easily fall into the dorky in-jokes that the couple have clearly shared for years. Samberg, especially, shows a deftness here and is great in the more subdued and emotional moments. For someone who was, up until this point, just that silly guy from the sketches, he shows the range and subtleness that he possesses. I have to be honest, though it'll come of no surprise to avid readers of this blog, that as the credits rolled I was a little bit in love with Samberg.

And the film as a whole I suppose. Although, Celeste and Jesse Forever is hardly revolutionising the genre but it does manage to avoid many of the pitfalls of the worst examples. It manages to create realistic characters and surrounds the leads in well-written supporting players. There are moments are sheer brilliance and realim on show here and some fantastic subplots to keep you busy. However, I was left a little disappointed by the ending. Celeste goes through an emotional journey to accept her failed marriage and it is quickly diminished thanks to the rom-com standard. I could so have easily fallen head-over-heels for this film but, as it goes, I think we'd be about as likely a couple as the on gracing this title.

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