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Andy Samberg and Rashida Jones in 'Celeste and Jesse Forever': movie review

'Celeste' is a rarity: a rom-com break-up scenario seen from the female point of view.

'Celeste and Jesse Forever' trailer
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The Sundance charmer “Celeste and Jesse Forever” is more interesting than its synopsis might indicate. It’s a rom-com about a married couple who are getting divorced but want to remain best friends.

Celeste (Rashida Jones) works as a trendspotter at a swank Los Angeles marketing firm; Jesse (Andy Samberg) is a layabout artist who is now residing in her guest bungalow. They go everywhere together, break themselves up with their jokes, and generally act like goony kids in love – except it’s all platonic now.

To their friends, especially Celeste’s closest confidante, Beth (Ari Graynor), there’s something creepy about this intense twosomeness. Why aren’t they dating other people?

It’s Jesse who makes the first serious move in that direction, and, as you might predict, Celeste, who prides herself on being totally rational, goes a little wiggy, especially when Jesse’s new girlfriend (Rebecca Dayan) turns out to be much more than a fling.

As I say, this all sounds standard issue, but Jones, who wrote the script with Will McCormack, is very adept at charting the moods of these people. The film is much more about Celeste than it is about Jesse, which may be a disservice to his side of the connubial equation, but it does give us something we don’t often see in the movies: a rom-com breakup scenario from a female point of view.

To Jones’s credit as a writer-performer, she doesn’t turn Celeste into a blithering whiner or a slapstick goofball. Celeste doesn’t renounce her successful career. We are never made to feel that her business smarts are somehow unfeminine or the cause of her unhappiness. What the film is saying, ultimately, is that no one is really at fault in this scenario, least of all Celeste. When she has a fight with Jesse about why they passed on parenthood, she blurts out, “The father of my child will own a car,” and we can sympathize.

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