The main problem with “Celeste and Jesse Forever” is that the film is marketed as a romantic comedy when it’s actually a sad portrait of a divorcing couple.
There is nothing wrong with a good dark comedy or a relationship drama, but here the lead characters are so unlikable we can’t help but wonder why we are watching their journey in the first place.
Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (“Saturday Night Live’s” Andy Samberg) were once high school sweethearts, but they’re currently going through a separation after five years of marriage. However, they still live together, go to dinner with mutual friends and remain buddy-buddy. Celeste runs a successful media consulting firm, while Jesse is unemployed and looking for work.
Their friends, as well as Celeste’s co-worker (Elijah Wood), try to convince them that a spark still exists between them. Despite what everyone is telling them, the two move on and start dating other people. Obviously, it doesn’t end well. Jesse gets deeply involved with someone else and when Celeste realizes their relationship may soon come to an end, she loses it.
Jones, who also wrote the script, doesn’t allow the characters to be anything but one-dimensional. Celeste thinks she can do whatever she wants on her end and still ultimately have Jesse. Jesse is obviously still in love with Celeste, but he never tries anything to win her back. Celeste is egotistical, unsupportive and insensitive, while Jesse is lazy, irritating and boring. How can we root for such messed up people?
The script needed more scenes of Jesse and less of Celeste. Although I wasn’t the biggest fan of Celeste as a character, Jones does an excellent job of carrying the film from start to finish in her first lead role. It’s just too bad she never gives her character a break to focus on Jesse and what he is going through. With that being said, Samberg is definitely miscast in this movie. This doesn’t mean the usually comedic actor needs to stick with funny business his entire career, but this is one role he should have passed on.
“Celeste and Jesse” offers a few charming moments, but it feels way too long and lacks a couple worthy of our sympathies.