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The 400-Word-Review: Life Partners

By Sean Collier

December 9, 2014

Look at all the colors! It's like a Benetton commercial!

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It’s hard to write about Life Partners, the excellent comedy directed by Susanna Fogel, without bemoaning its lack of mainstream attention. Released December 5th to only three theaters (after premiering via on-demand services a month earlier), it’s disheartening that a film this good isn’t playing across America. And sure, plenty of worthy films now follow the streaming-first model.

But Life Partners isn’t absent from the multiplex because it’s fringe-y, or narratively challenging, or overly intellectual. In fact, its humor falls in line with most mainstream comic stuff: relationships (familial, friendly and romantic), arrested development and awkward situations. It’s better than its ilk, but not markedly different. So why is it relegated to the iTunes bin?

Because it’s about two female friends. And even after Bridesmaids, even after Frozen, even when the biggest franchise in the world stars a singular heroine who runs circles around her dopey love interests, no one wants to market a smart comedy about female friends.

Don’t point out The Other Woman. I said a smart comedy.

Anyway: Sasha (Leighton Meester) and Paige (Gillian Jacobs) are compatriots in constant failed dates. Sasha can’t put up with the gossip and melodrama among the other lesbians she meets, and Paige finds the maturity of 20-something men notably lacking. They force each other to accept blind dates arranged online; while Sasha is stuck with an aggressive, self-obsessed TV personality (Kate McKinnon), Paige is smitten with her date, a movie-obsessed young doctor (Adam Brody).

The question: if a friendship is enabling less-than-positive behavior, does that necessarily make the friendship bad? It’s a subtle, yet important, query: as Paige becomes closer with her new beau and drifts away from Sasha, both women find their habits and opinions challenged. Are all disrupting forces destructive? And why does it fall to comedy (under-seen comedy, at that) to figure that out?

In any case, Life Partners is engaging, delightful and really funny. Both Meester and Jacobs are given a showcase not only for laughs, but also for charm and charisma; the movie is more than supported by the pair, who are destined for more leading roles. The script (co-written by Fogel and Joni Lefkowitz) is fine work as well, keeping dialogue light even as the subject matter grows rich.




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Hopefully, the future of big-screen comedy looks like Life Partners. In the meantime, though, you’ll have to make a special effort to enjoy this lovely film.

My Rating: 9/10


     


 
 

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