The new dramedy "Celeste And Jesse Forever" is about a seemingly happily married couple who are actually getting a divorce. Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman filed the following review.
Celeste and Jesse, played by Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg, have what looks, at first, to be the perfect modern relationship. They’re warm, responsive and fun-loving, with lots of shared rituals and cutesy private jokes. The two are so affectionate, so made for each other, that they seem like newlyweds. And by the way, they’re getting divorced.
"Celeste And Jesse Forever" throws us that curveball early on, and it establishes the movie as a romantic comedy powered by a question as novel and provocative as the one that drove "When Harry Met Sally," namely “Can a man and woman be friends?” The question here is more along the lines of: “Can a man and woman who were more than friends realize they still might be?”
So why are Celeste and Jesse splitting up? We hear the rationale in bits and pieces, and it doesn’t sound all that major. She’s a celebrity trend-spotter, he’s a gifted graphic artist who’s a passive underachiever.
For a while, I fought the movie’s premise. I thought: "Couldn’t Jesse just try a little harder? Couldn’t they get some couples therapy?" That, however, is all part of the movie’s design. Even when Celeste and Jesse start dating other people, they’re still hooked on each other — and maybe that's what they need to let go of.
Samberg, taking on his first role that’s more dramatic than comedic, is intensely compelling. He uses his big, wide, open features to play Jesse as a dude bristling with an ironic cleverness that can’t mask his feelings.
Rashida Jones makes Celeste a study in engagingly high-functional yuppie self-delusion. She wants to control everything, including her romantic impulses. Only that’s not how it works.
I won’t hint at what happens, since "Celeste And Jesse Forever" keeps taking viewers, like its characters, by surprise. I will say that it’s been a while since a romantic comedy mustered this much charm by looking this much like life.