Film Review: Rashida Jones co-writes, stars in daring but familiar romance

What happens when you marry your best friend? Perhaps that’s not a question most college students worry themselves with, but it’s the driving force behind the new movie Celeste and Jesse Forever.

The film stars two popular NBC actors as the title couple, Rashida Jones from “Parks and Recreation” and Andy Samberg from “Saturday Night Live.” As the opening credits roll, a montage of adorable pictures suggests Celeste and Jesse are the perfect couple. They laugh together, cry together and are just plain cute.

But it is quickly revealed that Celeste and Jesse are far from perfect. The pair is separated and pending a divorce. An audience member would never be able to tell, because the pair spends every waking moment together.

They tell their friends that everything is fine and that their relationship is healthy and normal. No one believes them – including the audience – and for good reason. Celeste and Jesse depend upon each other, even if it’s no longer for sexual reasons.

The pair’s casual relationship comes to an abrupt halt when Jesse reveals that he slept with someone else. Celeste is flabbergasted and embarks on a journey of soul searching and self-empowerment, to the tune of your standard eclectic and quirky soundtrack.

Celeste and Jesse Forever tries to subvert the clichés that riddle most romantic comedies with only mild success. It takes some unexpected and occasionally daring turns, but ultimately the film scampers back towards the safety of genre trademarks.

Jones co-wrote the script with her good friend and fellow actor Will McCormack, who makes a cameo appearance in the film. The script was partially based on their relationship, which began romantic but turned into a friendship.

Despite the honesty of the script, the movie is too focused on the central couple. There are a lot of supporting characters in the film, all played by excellent, well-known actors. Yet none of them get significant screen time and almost all of their dialogue is associated with the ups and downs of Celeste and Jesse.

While the script is uneven, the film is expertly made. Rather than employing static shots in crisp focus, the film opts to feature meandering camera movements that oscillate between soft and sharp focus. This laid-back approach accentuates and reflects Celeste and Jesse’s casual relationship.

The filmmaking, as well as Jones’ and Samberg’s impressive performances, helps to elevate the film. Even though it isn’t very different or daring, it is worth the trip to the theater.