Celeste and Jesse Forever sports an all star cast which includes Celeste’s overtly gay co-worker (Elijah Wood), their new client, a bombastic tween pop idol à la Ke$ha (Emma Roberts), and of course the main characters in Celeste (Parks & Recreation’s Rashida Jones), and Jesse (SNL’s Andy Samberg). The script itself was beautifully written by Ms. Jones as well as another of her co-stars in the film, Will McCormack.
With the exception of perhaps Emma Roberts or Elijah Wood, none of the aforementioned actors are really known for their dramatic chops. Andy Samberg has probably never before tackled a serious role in his life, while Rashida was for a long time just “That girl that’s not Pam” on The Office. To be honest, I had never before really considered Ms. Jones that great of an actor, but after sitting through Celeste and Jesse, I’m beginning to believe that I may have been completely underestimating her all this time, and for that Ms. Jones, I apologize!
The chemistry that Rashida and Andy evoke is one that at no time ever comes off as just ‘two people acting’. You believe that these two actually share a history of intimacy, and as you watch them struggle to come to terms with the state of their relationship, your heart just breaks a million-fold for them. Ms. Jones in particular gives an exceedingly heartfelt performance that not once comes across as inorganic. You get the impression that you are watching more of an autobiography than anything else, to the point where you even wonder if Will and Rashida are the real-life version of Celeste and Jesse.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the outstanding job Lee Toland Krieger did directing this film. While the actors themselves may have always had the ability to give such moving performances, I can only believe that Krieger’s calm and collected demeanor on set was at least partially responsible for coaxing it out of them. Krieger had previously appeared at Sundance in 2008 with his film The Vicious Kind and already he has proven that he most certainly has the chops to transition to the realm of overbudgeted films should he ever choose.
One of the reasons I think they don’t like to bring cast and crew into the Press Screenings of films is because they don’t want writers to get too attached to the people behind the scenes, especially right before they have to write about it. It’s a lot easier to trash a movie when you don’t have to look the artists in the eye, and to some, hearing about the trials and tribulations of making a film, can be enough to sway even the most pretentiously stubborn reviewer into writing something positive.
I would like to say that even had I not gotten a chance to hear the crew of the film speak, I still would have felt just as strongly about this film. I was sold long before I saw tears of joy well up in Rashida Jones’ eyes when she saw how well it was received. Celeste and Jesse not only proves that Jones is one heck of an actor, but she is also an amazing writer. Much like Kristen Wiig did with Bridesmaids, Jones has created a strong comedy that isn’t afraid to tell a story from a woman’s point of view. It’s a striking movie gem that stands as one of the most realistic relationship films I have ever seen, and it appears I may have to “sue her face off” due to the fact that she somehow unwittingly wrote a story that reflects my own personal experiences a little too closely.