High school sweethearts and the dwindling romance between them that soon fizzles out, like a wet blanket thrown over a fire. Such is life, and that is what Celeste and Jesse Forever features. The death of love and the reminiscence of it. Lovely stuff, nice and light. The usual back-and-forth that Jennifer Anniston and Vince Vaughn popularised in The Break-Up features within this Lee Toland Krieger feature. It is hard to escape the rise and fall and rise again of a couple going through the motions and falling out of love. Quick as a flash, audiences are shown an entire relationship in just a few snapshots. That is all Celeste and Jesse Forever can offer throughout, though. Snapshots of an interesting experience.
That is not the fault of leading duo Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg, who take to the trends and topical observations like a fish to water. Strong chemistry between two stalwart comics who are, thankfully, still on the rise and rise. On the Rocks and Palm Springs have cemented them both as two artists worth following, even into their darker depths. Celeste and Jesse Forever is not exactly a dark depth, though. It is not 30 Minutes or Less or Spies in Disguise, but neither is it Popstar Never Stop Never Stopping or Klaus. This feature that puts these two great leads together is more of a middle of the road feature, and there is a place for that in every tried and tested genre.
Arguably harder to achieve mediocrity and calmness than it is to feature greatness or groaning, awful tropes, Celeste and Jesse Forever completes a tightrope walk of simplicity. It is neither great nor grating, an uninterruptable feature that feels seamless and interesting at times. The pin-drop moments, the surprises that spin this tale of lovers trying to stay close and friendly while separating. An impossible challenge that appears to impact those around them, initially, more than it does themselves. The awkward encounters and strange interactions that follow do well to settle in some strong supporting performances and highlight the varying, inevitable emotional rollercoaster that Celeste and Jesse Forever cannot keep itself away from.
That necessary flick of the switch keeps the pace relatively decent. It flows well thanks to Jones and Samberg engaging with what makes them naturally funny and engaging performers. Celeste and Jesse Forever depends on that, well, forever. Where Krieger hopes to comment on the wider aspects of love and relationships is where this feature falters though. Elijah Wood and Emma Roberts are on hand to pick up the pieces later on, but by then it feels as though the road has been walked, the inevitable pieces are slotting into place and the defeatist attitude is complete. That desire to both move on and remain friendly and comfortable in the past is a nice ballast and a strange one to dissect. Either love dies or the other person does, Celeste and Jesse Forever seems to showcase. Even when the relationship dies though, love can linger on and it is presented more as an illness to overcome than a feeling to rekindle.