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"Celeste and Jesse Forever," the indie comedy that charmed Sundance audiences earlier this year, has been pegged as a breakup comedy, but you wouldn't know it from the first ten or so minutes of the film.
A cute opening title sequence shows the two lovebirds of the title (played by Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg) meeting, canoodling and eventually wedding all in quick succession. Next thing you know it, the two are sharing a car ride together, acting as happy couples do by bantering and declaring their love for one another. It's only at a dinner with friends that it all becomes clear: Celeste and Jesse are in fact separated, and on their way to an amicable divorce. The thing is, they're still best friends.
Written by Jones and her best friend Will McCormack (who also appears in the film), "Celeste and Jesse Forever" marks a refreshing antidote to the generic romantic comedies that flood the marketplace by keeping you guessing (will they divorce, will they not?) and throwing some real curve balls (like Jesse informing Celeste that he's fathering a child to another woman) to keep the plot messy — just like life.
Samberg surprises by showing off some real dramatic chops as the lovelorn Jesse, who still has the hots for his ex despite her seeming indifference to their romantic past. But the film belongs to Jones; unsurprising given that she wrote the thing.
After more than a decade spent establishing herself as a game supporting player in films like "The Social Network" and "I Love You, Man," and a funny TV presence in shows like "The Office" and "Parks and Recreation," Rashida Jones positively shines in her first on-screen headlining role. Oozing charisma and a ton of charm, Jones makes for a great leading lady. Funny when she needs to be and dramatic when the plot calls for it, Jones makes Celeste a wholly relatable and flawed heroine. You might grow frustrated with her as her actions spiral into murky territory (sleeping with your soon-to-be ex-husband ... never a good idea), but you'd be hard-pressed to not fall in love with her.
Ably supported by a game cast that includes Elijah Wood as Celeste's gay colleague, "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" breakout Ari Graynor and a scene-stealing Emma Roberts as a trashy teen pop star, "Celeste and Jesse Forever" is heartfelt, wise, funny and ultimately heartbreaking all in equal measure. What more do you want out of a movie?