Overview: Two inseparable best friends (one a straight, career driven type-A personality and the other a gay, free spirited musician) begin to grow apart when one struggles to get her life on the right path while the other establishes a successful career and begins a new relationship. 2014, Magnolia Pictures, rated R, 93 minutes.
Sugar and Spice: At the risk of sounding too misogynist or too feminist, I think it’s safe to say that a successful female-centered comedy is difficult to create without the delicate balance between humor and heart. Brash, crude humor only goes so far when it’s being delivered by women without being grounded by a semblance of sentimentality, because as females we thrive on connection. Life Partners achieves this balance more than any movie I’ve seen since Bridesmaids and perhaps even more so with its complete focus on relatable life events rather than far-fetched scenarios.
Sasha and Paige are funny because they say and do things that remind us of ourselves, from the outlandish wine induced commentary of superficial reality shows to the pimple stickers from my favorite childhood board game. It’s a possibility that Life Partners will be criticized for its lack of innovative plot and fresh take on friendship, but it’s charm and likability lie in its familiarity. The art of taking something real and presenting it in a sharply funny and comfortably recognizable package is one that requires a wealth of talent. Writer and Director Susanna Fogel showcases her ability to turn the everyday challenge of balancing friendship with romance and doing it all while trying to become a functioning adult into a smart, hilarious film centered around two strong female characters, and I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll see much more from her.
And Everything Nice: Although Leightoon Meester is most well known for being half of another female bestie duo, her role as the slacker Sasha is a far cry from the snotty socialite she portrayed for years as Blair Waldorf on Gossip Girl. Meester is pitch perfect as the loud, occasionally sloppy, thoughtful Sasha, who feels like her life is turned upside down when her best friend has her whole life together while she barely hangs on to a receptionist job and is still sleeping with college girls who live with their parents. Her chemistry with Gillian Jacobs (Paige) is remarkably honest and magnetic, boasting a genuine friendship that carries the film from beginning to end.
Overall: The onscreen spark between Meester and Jacobs combined with a smartly written script result in one of the most honest and funny female comedies in years.