Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sundance USA Boston 2012: Celeste and Jesse Forever

Last year, I don't think I heard much (if anything) about My Idiot Brother before catching it at Sundance USA, and it wound up being a fairly pleasant surprise. I may have oversold it a little, but it was a legitimately charming comedy with a nice cast that should have made a little more noise when it was released in August as Our Idiot Brother.

This year, it almost seemed as if the programmers were trying to go for a repeat of that - the movie showing at the Coolidge this year even starred one of Brother's cast members, Rashida Jones, and looked like it could have been funny. It was also picked up for distribution before hitting Brookline, and will likely also be released in August. Unfortunately, I was hearing bad things about it once it started screening in Park City and those warnings turned out to be right. Heck of a bummer, buying a $15 ticket weeks ahead of time and hearing that.

Anyway, I think this is the first festival-type screening since getting my new phone! Let's see how it helps with the Terrible Photography:

Will McCormack & Lee Toland Krieger, Will McCormack & Lee Toland Krieger do Q&A for "Celeste and Jesse Forever"
Dudes, c'mon, these people paid good money; dress up a little!

Well, not great, but the Coolidge isn't a great environment for this; it looks dark when you're just sitting there, and they always do Q&As off to the side as opposed to on the stage, under the lights.

Kind of fitting, though, considering how dark the picture was. They mentioned it before and after the film; I'm guessing that the Coolidge had to rent a DCP rig for the evening and there wasn't time to get everything to 100% in time for the screening. It wouldn't have made the movie any better, but it's an expensive ticket for that to happen at, which makes a lot of otherwise good organizations look kind of rinky-dink. And I'm guessing it wouldn't have happened with 35mm!

Celeste and Jesse Forever

* ¾ (out of four)
Seen 26 January 2012 in Coolidge Corner Theatre #1 (Sundance USA)

"I don't like the main character" isn't really a great reason to dislike a movie - there are plenty of disreputable protagonists who are nevertheless intriguing - but in real life, it's not a lot of fun to hang around people who complain despite being the authors of their own misery. That's what Celeste and Jesse Forever too often feels like; it wants to be a relationship comedy with some depth, but it seldom has much beyond the superficial.

Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg) have been best friends and lovers for half their lives, and can be almost nauseatingly cute together. It kind of freaks their engaged friends Beth (Ari Graynor) and Tucker (Eric Christian Olsen) out, as this is not, in their minds, the way a couple in the middle of a divorce should be acting. And despite the sources of friction that still show up occasionally, they remain best friends, even if they do seem like they should inevitably be pulled back toward each other. At least, it seems that way until Celeste returns from a tour to promote her new book; the two weeks apart have changed the landscape considerably.

Jesse is an artist who, toward the start of the movie, is more interested in catching some waves than finishing some work for Celeste's public relations firm, while Celeste is a "trend analyst"; the title of her book, "Shitegeist", gives some idea of how reflexively cynical she can be. And while they may not be horrible people, there's not much to them that's actively interesting - they're introduced to us with comedic shtick and the first personality traits of either that make a strong impression are negative. They're hollow shells who make what impression they do manage by having decent actors playing them, and that's the title characters - the supporting cast frequently doesn't even get a chance to rise to the level of "superficial".

Full review at EFC.


Anonymous said...

Nice post

film said...

great post but to be honest, Rashida Jones is the only reason I will go watch this movie.