College sweethearts Jesse and Celeste have made the decision to separate. The only problem is, they still hang out and act like best friends, which weirds out their friends. It’s a complicated situation made all the more complicated by their attempts to date other people while maintaining their friendship. When Jesse gives up on any hope of reconciliation with Celeste, he begins a relationship with another woman, sending Celeste spiraling into self-doubt, regret, and insecurity.
This is a romantic comedy that is not at all what it appears to be. I went into Celeste and Jesse Forever not entirely sure what to expect. But as Rashida Jones has stated, she wanted to write a romantic comedy about a breakup rather than a happily ever after and that’s exactly what Celeste and Jesse Forever gives you. Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg are perfectly matched as Celeste and Jesse. They have an incredibly natural rapport with each other and it’s easy to believe that they’ve been together since college. Samberg, who’s usually known for his overtly comedic roles, shows his range as a man clinging to a relationship that simply doesn’t fit anymore. As Celeste, Jones proves how worthy she is of leading roles. The majority of the film is about Celeste’s journey from being the woman in Jesse’s life to not knowing who she is without him. While Jesse moves on, Celeste seems to be stuck in limbo.
After thinking about the movie for a few days, I realized how rare it is to watch a believable romantic comedy. Rom-coms usually guarantee a happy ending and while you could look at Celeste and Jesse Forever as a movie that subverts the genre, it really doesn’t. There is a happy ending… more than one, in fact, it’s just not the kind of happy ending you expect from a romantic comedy. But that’s what I appreciated about it.
If I had to find something to complain about it would be Emma Roberts’s small role as a vapid pop singer who hires Celeste’s firm for her marketing. The subplot seemed out of place and somewhat pointless other than to give Celeste a young, hip friend to talk to while her life imploded. I just didn’t understand what the point was and it took me out of the rhythm of the movie anytime Riley came on screen.
That being said, Jones and her co-writer Will McCormack deliver a smart script with a beautiful love story at the heart of it. With gorgeous cinematography and wonderful performances, Celeste and Jesse Forever is absolutely one of the better “rom coms” I’ve watched in the past few months. Samberg and Jones both have grown on me a lot and I hope to see them in more nuanced roles in the future.