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Home » Culture and Criticism

29/31: Life Partners

Submitted by on January 29, 2015 – 9:49 PM2 Comments
Photo: Minerva Productions

Photo: Minerva Productions

I would tell you that we've now reached the point in 31 Films In 31 Days when we pick our movies based on how short they are…

…but we reached that point at least a week ago. Heh. So that's how I ended up watching Life Partners, the tale of two besties — one straight (Gillian Jacobs), one gay (Leighton Meester) — and how they navigate their non-carnal spouse-hood when one of them meets someone else. As a viewer with a non-carnal wife of my own, I looked forward to seeing whether Life Partners could touch the hem of Walking & Talking's garment; I consider the latter the gold standard of lady-friendship movies (honorable mention to the opening scenes of Bridesmaids).

Almost. Jacobs and Meester are adorable and recognizable, and the way they inhabit Paige and Sasha's friendship is fantastic, like Sasha's passive-aggressive pausing when Paige's boyfriend Tim (Adam Brody) joins them for Top Model night and Paige has to explain everything to him. "I hate everyone but you" is a more common sentiment in best friendships than you might think. It's always nice to see Julie White, and she's amusing here as Paige's mom. Beth Dover nails Jenn's hectic fragility.

But in this plot? Why? I'd rather see no plot at all, or more of a formal time-lapse thing — anything but the old "first act friends, second act love interest drives them apart, fight fight insight callback end" we get here. I don't buy that Paige and Sasha diverge that far in terms of their career ambitions, I don't buy that Tim wouldn't integrate better into their friendship (or that Paige would integrate that seamlessly into co-habiting and nesting and whatnot, when she and Sasha allegedly have the same history with short relationships), I don't buy that Sasha would act that petulant of a fool at the barbecue, and there's a subplot involving a fender-bender that's supposed to prove how rigid Paige is that just tells us instead of showing, and I don't buy that either.

I'd love it if they could go back and remake the movie without feeling obligated to some by-numbers plot that isn't really about these people. As it is, it's not bad. The leads do great, and I laughed a few times. But a friendship between two women isn't as easily threatened as Hollywood seems to think, or by the things Hollywood seems to think, and these filmmakers probably know better, too.

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