Rashida Jones filtered her own relationship history — and a few heart-wrenching break-ups — into this weekend's Celeste and Jesse Forever, an L.A.-set look at one couple's struggle to remain besties through separation, divorce, and the complicated disentanglement that follows the world's best-worst break-up.
Co-written with fellow actor Will McCormack, whom Jones dated for three weeks years ago, the sweet, affecting dramedy is peppered with moments inspired by real life events that carry Celeste through her journey of painful but necessary self-discovery — including one legendarily awful date with a guy who turned out to be, in Jones' words, "a serial masturbator."
Films like Celeste and Jesse Forever and The Five-Year Engagement feel like the start of some new subgenre — these unromantic semi-comedies about the microdramas of nice, emotionally inarticulate people struggling their way through relationships. Both feature comedic actors working with material that's not intended to be all that funny, and both take angles on relationships that don't usually make it to screen — a prolonged breakup leading up to a divorce and a prolonged, unhappy stretch leading up to a wedding. And both cruise on the charms of their lead actors, in this case Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg, holding together just enough to be satisfying while also leaving you wishing they had a little more to them.
Indie pic Celeste and Jesse Forever
played Sundance back in January and achieved that much sought-after hallmark of success: an acquisition deal with a big-name distributor - in this case the venerable Sony Pictures Classics. But the movie that had some false starts before shooting began did make it to the screen and if a gala screening of the film last night in New York is any measure, it should see more success. In addition to cast members Rashida Jones (who also co-wrote the film) and Rebecca Dayan as well as writer Will McCormack and director Lee Toland Krieger, Anne Hathaway
, Paul Rudd
, David Schwimmer
, Amy Poehler
, Aziz Ansari
, Andy Cohen and Max Greenfield turned out for the event, hosted by The Peggy Siegal Company and the International Rescue Committee.