22 feb. 2014

My Review: Drinking Buddies (6/10)

"That's the problem with heartbreak, to you it's like an atomic bomb and to the world it's just really cliche, because in the end we all have the same experience."

Drinking Buddies is mumblecore director Joe Swanberg's latest film which benefits from an impressive cast and an interesting premise that examines young adult relationships in a fresh way. Many people have called it the When Harry Met Sally of this generation considering it brings up the question whether or not men and women can become best friends without falling in love. This film never raises the question through dialogue, but we see it through the actors actions and emotional responses. One of the things I liked about this film is that things go unsaid like in real life relationships and it's up to the audience to judge the characters without ever being forced or pushed to feel a certain way about them. It is one of those rare romantic comedies we can relate to. The main problem I had with this film however has to do with the fact that the first 30 minutes of the movie felt like the characters were being forced towards a predictable direction and setting everything up, but then all of a sudden it shifts and becomes something completely unexpected. I wasn't a huge fan of that misdirection, but thankfully the last hour is really entertaining and sincere, making Drinking Buddies a film worth watching. 

Kate (Olivia Wilde) works at a local Chicago brewery and despite being the only female she gets along really well with her male co-workers, especially with Luke (Jake Johnson) with whom she goofs around often. Kate is currently in a relationship with a music producer named Chris (Ron Livingston), while Luke is in the midst of marriage talks with his girlfriend of six years, Jill (Anna Kendrick). The two couples decide to spend a weekend together in the woods where we see (or at least think we do) which couples actually belong with each other and which don't. Spending their free time drinking a lot doesn't make their decisions any easier either.

The film was also edited pretty well by Joe Swanberg who also was credited for writing the screenplay despite the fact that all the dialogue in this film was completely improvised and the actors were only given a vague outline of the plot. The chemistry between Jake Johnson and Olivia Wilde was great and they both deliver some of their best performances here. Wilde really surprised me here considering I didn't think she had this in her, she was outstanding. Anna Kendricks is a great actress but I wasn't impressed very much with her role here, perhaps because I've seen her in stronger roles before. Despite its flaws this was an entertaining film that felt at times like a good hang-out movie. Swanberg was great at capturing some of the small moments really well and building the sexual tension between the two friends. In the end the audience can decide whether these characters were really perfect for each other or not, but the incident near the end where Luke cuts his hand with a nail allowed me to make up my mind pretty easily.

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