Drinking Buddies. Joe Swanberg. 2013.

Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson willfully skirt around the truth in "Drinking Buddies."

Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson willfully skirt around the truth in “Drinking Buddies.”

What Drinking Buddies does, it does well. Namely, it captures the way that romantic partners casually lie to themselves about their true feelings and remain content to skirt the edges of major issues like infidelity, long-term commitment and authentic connection. In this case, coworkers Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson) indulge their obvious chemistry behind the pretense of platonic friendship lest they rock the boat of their respective committed relationships. Truthfully, nothing much happens in Drinking Buddies, and in some ways this lack of dramatic event becomes one of its greatest strengths: there is no adherence to the typical romantic comedy structure here, there is no real pay-off to the “will they or won’t they” sexual tension at its core, there is no big climactic moment where innocent flirtation goes too far, and that is very much the point; this is a more a film about the way the characters don’t communicate with one another than it is about any kind of cathartic disclosure. And in that regard, the movie is actually quite subtle and quite lovely. Because Kate and Luke constantly dance around the edges of their feelings for one another (using beer and seemingly “casual” social interactions to blur the lines of their flirtation), because the subtext never becomes text, entire moods shift based on otherwise innocuous details, and the smallest issues become vessels for a world of unexpressed emotion, all leading to a beautifully orchestrated final confrontation that hangs heavy with a world of pent-up romantic energy. It’s a shame, then, that Drinking Buddies buckles under the weight of its Mumblecore leanings – this highly-improvised, skeletal film succinctly evokes a very slight slice of romantic reality, but ultimately fails to take it to a deeper level. Still, there is a lot of undeniable skill on display here.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *