Yesterday, after my daily writing was done, I figured that nothing could be better than an afternoon movie on the sofa. My neck has been seriously jammed up, as if cement has been poured down the back of my head, dripping towards my shoulders. Feeling tense, I just want to curl up, and get lost in someone else’s story for a while.
On Netflix, there are so many options that you could practically spend your allotted movie time just searching for the perfect film. Luckily, I did not have to search that hard: the first thing I see is “Celeste & Jesse Forever“, the film co-written by and starring Rashida Jones, along with Andy Samberg.
Warning: if you have ever gone through a divorce or a terrible breakup, or have a dismally stiff upper body and are depending on a Vancouver Canucks neck pillow to ease your pain, this movie is a mine-field, a mine-field I tell you!
The film was beautiful, touching and really funny. And I was a fucking puddle by the time the credits rolled. Celeste and Jesse, best friends since high school, married young and grew apart, and separate (sort of) six years later. The dissolution of their relationship is not because they don’t love or laugh, it is that their values in regards to ambition are wildly skewed. Celeste is goal-oriented and success-driven, Jesse wants to surf and watch television. Though they are divorcing, they are committed to their friendship–which is difficult if not impossible. He lives in the guest house, they still go out with their couple friends, they spend time together, lean on each other, but they are no longer a couple. It’s confusing for the characters as well as the viewers. The crux of their situation is that Jesse is not getting off the couch and participating in building a better life. Frustrations aside, they still share inside jokes and intimate details, and to each other, they are the very thing anyone wants–a best friend who truly understands you.
As the story goes on, my sniveling heightens, as does the pile of tissues on the coffee table. In truth, even thinking about the movie thickens my throat. The storyline is completely identifiable–we’ve all had to let go of someone we’ve loved. But this picture offers the double-whammy: losing your partner is painful enough, but when that person is also your best friend, it’s the absolute worst. You want to talk about losing someone, with the very person you’ve lost, and that’s a heart breaker. In this film, both parties go back and forth between needing to be apart, and wanting to be together. But the story really belongs to Celeste and her devolution from polished and professional into a sloppy, unkempt, chain smoking, ranch dressing drenching mess.
The movie examines a number of issues: the long road to recovery after a breakup, moving forward, and trying to find a new way to love a person whom you no longer love. Of course, it touches on how men always seem to bounce back a little bit better than women. For some of us, getting over the end of a relationship is like recovering from an illness. There is no known cure but time, perspective and bottles upon bottle of red wine.
This morning, while poking around different articles, this movie swirling around in my head, I came across an article discussing Brad Pitt‘s remarks about his marriage to Jennifer Aniston. He occasionally garners criticism for his negative comments about that time. He makes it extremely clear that his union with the ‘Friends‘ superstar was just about the most soul crushing thing ever. He claimed that he played interesting characters in interesting movies, but that his life wasn’t exciting to him. And therefore, what do you do when you have money, fame, success and a beautiful wife? You sit on the couch and get baked…for years. He draws this mystical conclusion that he was unhappy, wasting his potential, and said: “I think that my marriage had something to do with it. Trying to pretend the marriage was something it wasn’t”.