Celeste & Jesse Forever Lee Toland Krieger

Celeste & Jesse Forever Lee Toland Krieger
8
When Celeste & Jesse Forever opens, the titular couple have technically separated, but spend all of their time together amiably. Though they plan to divorce, Jesse (Andy Samberg) lives in Celeste's (Rashida Jones) guesthouse, sharing every detail of his life with her. She similarly relies on her ex for emotional support and companionship, going out for dinner with him and using him as a sounding board for her daily frustrations. As their best friends Beth (Ari Grayner) and Tucker (Eric Christian Olsen) point out: it's weird. But as this self-sustaining, impractical and imbalanced connection inevitably implodes, the surprise is that it's the controlling Celeste that suffers. Being very much a type-A, supercilious sort, she treats her amorous ex as a pet, using him to validate her ego and to craft a framework of certainty, one where her options are open but aren't conventionally deflated or threatened by gender expectations when a back-up is within arm's reach. Though a comedy — mostly — detailing the idiosyncrasy of Celeste's existence as a cultural forecaster, working with bimbette pop singers like Riley Banks (Emma Roberts), Celeste & Jesse Forever details, quite astutely, the impetus for ideological change. Believing herself to be smarter than everyone else, and resultantly "right" about everything, Celeste exists in a vacuum of her creation. Quick to categorize and dismiss those that demonstrate conventional attributes, she limits her social lexicon and builds up emotional barriers in any platonic or romantic connection. When control is pulled out from beneath her and Jesse steps out into the world on his own and doesn't stumble, she's forced to recognize her imperfections and presumptive behaviour, which is where the heart and thematic impetus of this funny and observant character piece lies. Though jokes about album cover art resembling sodomy and planned coitus with a new beau turning into a bizarre masturbatory performance piece lighten things up, what screenwriters Rashida Jones and Will McCormack have crafted here is an admonition about self-imposed alienation. It's self-conscious of its existence as a throwback to the introspective, literate indie comedies of the '90s, optimistically hoping that our current cultural climate of instant gratification reality TV shows and remake dependency will die out in favour of organic simplicity. While unlikely, this hopeful perspective on the nature of change reflects the central plight of the sarcastic and highly efficient Celeste. These attributes and themes are discussed in detail on the two commentary tracks included with the DVD, but aren't touched upon beyond superficiality in the "behind the scenes," which is little more than an extended trailer featurette. (Sony)