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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the unexpected: divorce and best friendship.

This may not be exactly how you remember the playground song from your youth, but it is, in essence, the beginning of Sony Pictures Classics’ newest indie-darling “Celeste and Jesse Forever.”

Following in the footsteps of contemporary love stories such as “Juno” and “(500) Days of Summer,” “Celeste and Jesse Forever” is the latest, and arguably the smartest, film to ride the wave of new, realistic romantic comedies.

Despite six months of separation and plans to divorce, Celeste, played with charm and complexity by Rashida Jones, and Jesse, a breakout dramatic role for Andy Samberg, still spend every day together, to the chagrin of their friends.

The exes are content with their arrangement until an unexpected rendezvous and a startling revelation by Jesse proves too much for Celeste.

Just as “When Harry Met Sally” did more than two decades ago, “Celeste and Jesse Forever” poses a crucial question for its characters and audience to answer — can you ever be just friends with your ex?

The success of “Celeste and Jesse Forever” cannot be attributed to just one person or aspect, but rather it is due to the amalgamation of authentic acting, witty writing and overall visual excellence.

The film’s leading lovers have shared a common address, NBC, where they have thrived in supporting roles: Jones in “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation,” and Samberg on “Saturday Night Live.” Faced with the task of starring in a film has time and again proved insurmountable for many small-screen stars, but that is not the case for these two. The couple’s palpable chemistry shined in almost every scene, most notably while donning European accents or simulating inappropriate acts.

As a driven businesswoman, Jones oozes quirky charisma, though she never appears annoying when lamenting failed relationships to her equally delightful friend Beth, portrayed by up-and-coming actress Ari Graynor.

Celeste undergoes a complete transformation in stability and merit during the course of the film. Jones exceptionally captured this change with ease, proving that she is the kind of leading lady that young women can relate to and root for in the future.

Samberg continues to exude his trademark goofy charm, yet underscores it with a real sense of emotional believability. Elijah Wood and Emma Roberts delighted in their supporting roles as a loyal co-worker and budding pop star, respectively.

Jones and Will McCormack, who played the scene-stealing drug dealer Skillz, performed double-duty by also writing the captivating script. Balancing humor and honesty, the film depicted modern-day love and all its flaws with much grace.

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One of the most refreshing features of the film was the brilliant camerawork. The stop motion opening montage was both an effective introduction to the plot and a visually stunning sight. Accompanying many of the poignant scenes was an attentive musical compilation that can appeal to the secret hipster in all of us.

Some crude sexual and drug situations may irk certain adults, but college students will most likely applaud Jones and McCormack’s writing debut for its authentic approach to this generation’s relationships.

Judging by the audience of only four people in the theater, “Celeste and Jesse Forever” may not remain in Gainesville forever, so enjoy their quirky love while it lasts.

The film is playing at Regal Gainesville 14, located at 3101 SW 35th Blvd. Call 352-336-0408 for showtimes.

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