‘Drinking Buddies’: Here’s a toast to original rom-coms
A review of the surprisingly thoughtful, low-key romantic comedy “Drinking Buddies.”
Seattle Times movie critic
‘Drinking Buddies,’ with Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, Ron Livingston. Written and directed by Joe Swanberg. 90 minutes. Rated R for language throughout. SIFF Cinema at the Uptown.
Joe Swanberg’s low-key rom-com “Drinking Buddies” sneaks up on you; you think it’s going in one direction, and suddenly it goes somewhere much more interesting. At its heart are two couples, seemingly mismatched. Kate (Olivia Wilde), the sassy, confident PR manager of a Chicago craft brewery, is involved with Chris (Ron Livingston), a quiet fellow who seems on a different wavelength. Luke (Jake Johnson), Kate’s friend and co-worker at the brewery, buzzes with a freewheeling energy similar to Kate’s; his girlfriend Jill (Anna Kendrick) is a demure schoolteacher.
When the four of them head off to a lake cabin together, sparks fly in the wrong direction, and you wonder idly if Harry and Sally, er, Kate and Luke will soon become more than friends.
But Swanberg (“Hannah Takes the Stairs,” “V/H/S”) has something else in mind; telling a story about what happens when friendship goes rogue, about how someone can seem perfect only when viewed in soft focus, and about how love has a mysterious way of showing up on its own time.
The story and cast have a loose, unhurried quality, particularly Wilde, here playing a sort of fantasy woman (she drinks with the boys, plays football in a bikini, is absurdly slender considering the volume of craft beer she guzzles and somehow makes a surreptitious sniff of her armpit charming).
Sure, they’re all playing types — Kate and Luke are relaxed, Chris and Jill are uptight — but each finds something unexpected within their character. By the movie’s final scene — a lovely, wordless sequence that speaks loud and clear — we’re invested in these people, and in their overlapping roads to friendship and love.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org