Celeste and Jesse Forever

It’s rare these days to find a romantic comedy that takes the genre and flips familiar tropes on their proverbial heads. For lovers of the genre, Celeste and Jesse Forever will be a welcome breath of fresh air.

Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg) are the sort of couple that people love to hate – a perfectly-matched yin/yang, best friends with all of the cute little in-jokes that only make sense to them. Their friends are growing sick of their behavior, but for a rather interesting reason: Celeste and Jesse are separated, with a pending divorce.

The reason for the split comes from Celeste, a career woman who wants something more from a husband than what Jesse, who’s a slacking artist, can provide. When Jesse finally begins to move on, though, a rift truly begins to form, and Celeste begins to spin out of control.

Jones has proven herself as a more-than-capable comic actress, especially with roles on The Office and Parks and Recreation. Here, though, she gives her best performance to date by far. It doesn’t hurt that Jones co-wrote the script with Will McCormack, who shows up as Celeste’s pot-dealing friend. Samberg, meanwhile, shows a depth one wouldn’t expect from his Saturday Night Live background. While often hilarious, he’s also heartbreaking as he’s visibly torn over his relationship with Celeste.

The story also offers a number of excellent supporting performances, including Ari Graynor as a mutual friend of Celeste and Jesse’s, Elijah Wood as a wannabe-sassy gay friend, Emma Roberts as a difficult pop star client of Celeste’s, and Chris Messina as a yoga student who shows interest in Celeste.

Celeste and Jesse Forever manages to pack in a rather substantial amount of storytelling into its rather compact 91-minute runtime. On top of that, it’s incredibly charming, clever and smart. It’s easily the most refreshing romantic comedy since (500) Days of Summer, all while being more life-like than standard genre fare.

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