Hot couples, passionate couples, fighting couples, impossible love couples, fading couples, platonic couples, couples in which the imaginary girlfriend dies in an imaginary car-wreck. From every kind of one-two combos on movies or TV shows, I have a favorite: couples that you know that are gonna make. You just do. The thought of them not walking holding hands and walking sticks, down the line, is just a mirage in the future lane, and not just a possibility. Phil and Claire in Modern Family, Chandler and Monica in Friends, Lily and Marshal in Modern Family. They’re gonna make it. Celeste and Jesse are one of those couples. They have chemistry beyond sex. They’re best friends. If you believe in such things as soul mates, they’re it (and you’re a fag). They’re perfect for each other and their divorce papers are already filled.
Something, somewhere along the line, went wrong. We can’t tell what right away. They’re the perfect couple in everything, but when it’s time to go home, she goes to the big house, and he goes to his small studio out back.
They’ve been separated for six months, but neither can let go.
The couple is made up by Jess who is played by Adam Samberg. Adam delivers a performance much like his work for previous comedies, but with a new found depth. He plays a guy so laid back, that due to the wear and tear, his chairs have become benches. The classic case of a talented underachiever, whose apathy has set back. Rashida Jones plays the wife, the exact opposite. She’s successful, determined and ambitious. They’re so different that the break up seems inevitable.
Or does it?
Yes, it does.
Celeste and Jesse Forever side-steps most of rom-coms clichés. The side characters aren’t carton figures that advance the plot. Elijah Wood is the gay friend, but his struggle to fit the gay stereotype is refreshing. Will McCormac is the stoner friend. He tries to hit on Celeste, but his failure inspires more tenderness than hate. Emma Roberts plays a teenage pop star with surprising emotional debt. Her character can go more than one direction.
We could hope to see his lazy demeanor eventually clashing with her ambition. But we don’t get to see that. Jesse has to improve himself, get off his lazy butt, and get a job to go along his new found ambition. There’s nothing like that here. That wouldn’t be honest or fair. Jesse can stop being who he is the same way a dog can learn to walk on his back legs: as a trick, for a little while. And don’t mention that two-legged dog who learned to walk on his back legs. For the sake of my analogy I hope the dog dies while I’m writing this. The cause of death should be the unrelenting strain of attempting to be who he is not.
Midway through the movie, the plot twist happens. It’s not cliché either.
Jesse has to get a bit serious and Celeste has to face the reality that she’s losing him.
From here on this can be a sad story about a break up, a beautiful new love story, a story about a rekindled everlasting love. It’s just about a choice of where the credits start rolling. And though the director has final cut you still get to choose how that story would continue.
I choose to believe that Jesse immediately after driving away gets into a car accident and becomes a paraplegic. Years go by, he regains some of his mobility. He leaves the house on his own the first time in years and gets run over again. He becomes a quadriplegic and wastes away his years in a hospital bed while Celeste forgets who he is.
But hey, I’m a romantic…