Celeste and Jesse

Starring and co-written by Rashida Jones, romantic comedy Celeste and Jesse Forever opens in New York and LA theaters today.

I had a chance to see the movie at LA Film Festival this summer. It’s an adorably hipster account of a couple’s divorce, told from the wife’s point of view. From the artful opening credit sequence laying out their friendship-turned-courtship, we watch the unraveling of what seems like the perfect couple.

Jones and co-writer Will McCormack make a genuine attempt to reverse or perhaps blur typical gender roles, painting Jones’ Celeste as the take-charge, know-it-all wife with a successful career, and Andy Samberg’s Jesse as the emotionally clingy spouse who will never grow up. By the end of the story, the lines are erased and re-drawn again. At its core, the film strives to put a new spin on the argument on whether exes can truly remain friends. Wackiness, of course, ensues.

True to Jones’ heritage as the daughter of music legend Quincy Jones, the film is also chock full of nicely picked music cues, like Brenda Russell’s A Little Bit of Love [aka the original sample in Big Pun’s Still Not a Player]. It has the kind of mellow indie humor that makes for prime date-night viewing - think Judd Apatow, only a little less raunchy.

It’s also the type of film that perhaps more black audiences should embrace. I may catch some flack here, since Jones’ “allegiance” to blackness has been questioned from pretty much the beginning of her career. But in a community that constantly seeks more roles and versatility for people of color in Hollywood, a solid film starring and written by a black person that strays outside conventional ideas of blackness seems more helpful than harmful.

Find the trailer for Celeste and Jesse Forever below. For screening dates and locations, visit celesteandjesse.com.