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Classic Review: Celeste and Jesse Forever

Director: Lee Toland Krieger. Starring: Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Elijah Wood. Released: 2012


I assumed that this film would just be just another ‘love story’ set in Los Angeles; I couldn’t have been more wrong. Celeste and Jesse Forever is a tale that follows two young people who are continually falling in and out of love. Jesse and Celeste, a couple who initially seem to be the ideal couple, are not only in love but best friends too. However, you soon gather that after getting married their relationship has turned stale and destructive.

The film picks up when the couple are newly separated and filing for divorce. Initially as the viewer this appears quite awkward and sterile, however it becomes clear the two are still great friends and naturally still have feelings for one another. During the first half of the film you get the sense that Celeste, Rashida Jones’s character, is pushing Jesse (Andy Samberg) away, but he is very much still in love with her. The relationship dynamics become apparent, revealing the breakdown of their relationship to be due to Jesse’s lack of ambition and drive. Celeste is shown to be in control. However, Jesse soon meets another girl and by an unexpected turn of events she falls pregnant and he finds himself in another serious relationship—meanwhile, Celeste is all alone. This hits her hard and she takes it very badly; they still love each other and crave one another’s company. The film has a heart-wrenching ending, when you want the two to rekindle their love but they go their opposite ways. The strange twist is that by the films end Jesse turns out to have more aspects of his life sorted out, and Celeste is still searching.

This film was a starkly real take on what relationships are today. Relationships have become fundamentally narcissistic; we look to our partner to determine who we are as people. We want to encourage our ‘better half’ to be the ‘best they can be’, a process that can place unnecessary strain and pressure on people to appear to be having ‘healthy’ and functional relationships. You stop seeing the other person for who they are and start caring how their behaviour might display to others. For me the film reflects a decision many women have to make: whether to choose their career or maintain a relationship. Jones’ character Celeste is obviously more driven and determined, so does this break down the relationship? Although this film is not a life changer, it is an interesting and modern take on a break up, something I think hasn’t successfully been done before.

Finally, the film has a great alternative soundtrack which suits the film well, kicking off as we first see them in a car singing along to Lily Allen’s ‘Littlest Things’. I fully recommend Celeste and Jesse Forever as an easy afternoon watch for all.