Tallulah at the Movies: Celeste and Jesse Forever

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The premise of Celeste and Jesse Forever is ambiguity personified.

Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg) are longtime married sweethearts who are on the road to divorce. Celeste is dynamic, hyper smart in a laidback manner. Jesse is laidback.  His laidbackness — I didn’t read it as slackerness, I felt that he was simply casual about his life and ambition. His casualness is the trigger for Celeste asking for a divorce. He moves out to his studio in the back of the house. They are in this limbo between marriage, divorce and love, believing that it will all work out.

At times,  I find ambiguity terrifying. Life is a constant roller coaster of unknowns — why not seek out and stake certainty?  The last few months of intense personal introspection has forced me to rethink ambiguity and its favorite cousin, fear.  Specifically, I’ve opened up myself to the reality that feelings of uncertainty and fear can’t be avoided.  Shit is ambiguous.  And that truth doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world.

Celeste and Jesse Forever gets that with some lovely humane and humorous grace.

Grace notes:

  • The music in the film enhances the story and the characters & their motivations. There’s an organic feel that makes me believe that these people would listen to this music. It’s very lived in and familiar. Lily Allen, Brenda Russell, and a cover of Biz Markie‘s ‘Just A Friend’ that I need to find.
  • Andy Samberg annoyed me for a long time – although I did make an exception for the Lazy Sunday and Shy Ronnie videos.  The reason is my aversion to manchild antics being celebrated and Samberg came off as one of the poster men for such adolescent behavior.  I have to give him props for this role. His Jesse is so heartfelt and poignant in his floundering. I believed him.  His performance is eye opening in the same way Adam Sandler was in Spanglish.
  • There is a montage in the movie that works the metaphor of emotional journey very well. For some this may be too on the nose, but I found it reassuring because that’s what life is all the time. Some days, the journey means the A train is waiting when you step off the G.  Some days it means getting stuck in Macau overnight because the ferries stop running at midnight.
  • Everyone should have a friend like Skillz.

I want people to see this movie.  To see how this couple who are so familiar and lived in with each other shift into ambiguity.

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