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Celeste and Jesse Forever


Stars: Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Chris Messina, Ari Graynor, Elijah Wood, Eric Christian Olsen, Will McCormack, Rebecca Dayan, Rich Sommer, Matthew Del Negro, Rafi Gavron

Director: Lee Toland Krieger

In the heyday of Hollywood, studio-exploited stars were able to carry all kinds of movies despite – as was so often the case – screenplays ranging from seen-it-all-before to banal and worse. Many of these successes would have otherwise been negligible as best and truly unwatchable at worst without the glowing stars that carried the celluloid corpses into cinemas.

Nowadays, with the exception, say, of the Bond movies and most other well-to-over-exploited franchise films, a good screenplay is considered an asset which can hopefully be brought to life by good actors (rather than stars) and matching behind-the-camera talents. This minor but largely appealing movie proves the point.

Jones (who doubles with co-writer Will McCormack) and Samberg met young, married young and have now divorced – but remain good friends with her carrying on in her high profile job as a trend-spotter (this is the USA, remember) while he is unemployed again and uncertain what to do. He still loves Jones but is willing to accept being with her as a friend. After which briefing, you should be able to figure out the way things might go as the film progresses…

Charm carries the film. Jones and Samberg (“We are separated and we are friends”) create genuinely likeable characters whose progress is enjoyable – and frequently very funny - to watch. The dialogue is often sharp, the concept of the assembly of a piece IKEA furniture – something that Hercules himself might well have failed at had he been faced with it as one of his celebrated Twelve Labours – working well as an aphrodisiac is amusing and well brought to life, and comedy is well balanced with credible characterisation.

Supporting performances are fine but rightly aimed at showcasing the leads with Wood, fun as a gay executive, clearly enjoying his escape from the fantastic universe of Lord of the Rings and into the contemporary world.

Alan Frank

USA 2012. UK Distributor: Buena Vista International. Colour.
92 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 1.

Review date: 08 Dec 2012