Tribeca Film Festival 2014: Life Partners

680x478The 2014 Tribeca Film Festival theme of friends staying close as they head into their 30s (first seen in About Alex) continues in Life Partners (which also happens to feature actors best known for their TV work). Sasha (Leighton Meester) and Paige (Gillian Jacobs) are the best of friends. They get along so well that no romantic relationship has been able to match it. But when Paige begins dating Tim (Adam Brody) things quickly change for them.

No fraught love triangle arises in Life Partners, for, Sasha is a lesbian and perfectly happy for Paige’s blossoming relationship. Until, that is, Paige inevitably begins to ignore and dismiss Sasha. It’s a common situation that may hit pretty close to home for many in the audience. But Life Partners adequately and uniquely addresses the subject head on.

Sasha, who tends to date immature, younger girls (who typically live with their parents), forces a more serious relationship out of one of those girls in an attempt to match Paige’s rapidly progressing relationship. But Sasha’s chosen girlfriend, Vanessa (Abby Elliot), is a particularly vile person whom even Sasha can barely stand. Sasha’s behavior is just another symptom of her developmentally arrested life. She still relies heavily on her parents for money, who believe she’ll break out into the music industry at any moment. When, in reality, she spends more time complaining about her secretarial position than working on her music—a passion that may even be fading for Sasha.

Her relationship with Vanessa also causes a rift in Sasha’s other friendships. Vanessa was Jenn’s (Beth Dover) ex whom she dramatically obsessed over—as she does for every girl she dates. And the other Jen (Gabourey Sidibe) reveals this information to Jenn just to create drama amongst the group. Only Paige seems to notice how ill-matched they are as a couple, trying to encourage Sasha to date someone more mature—like the lawyer at Paige’s work.

But Paige is too immersed in her own relationship with Tim to notice Sasha’s overcompensation. It’s a relationship that has it’s own difficulties. Paige inevitably tries to mold Tim more into the man she wants to date—criticizing his obsession with quoting movies and improving his fashion sense. She also fails to filter anything she says to him, revealing many personal facts about Sasha that she would rather he not know. It’s just another aspect of Paige and Tim’s relationship that gets under Sasha’s skin.

Life Partners deals with these relationships in a very humorous way. Comedy reigns in the film, with each situation feeling almost exaggerated, although still remaining fully grounded in all-too-real situations. One-liners and snide remarks (and perfectly timed withering looks by Meester) lighten the mood of the film, almost laughing at itself.

Meester and Jacobs have natural platonic chemistry together, making them a perfect fit. Brody, however, lacks any sexual chemistry with Jacobs. An off-putting aspect of the film, as it makes you root for them to eventually break up. Not surprising, though, is the inherent chemistry between Meester and Brody—who are married in real life. While they’re not meant to have any sexual chemistry in the film, you can’t help but think how great the two would be together (even if just as friends—an aspect not explored in the film). Despite this incongruity, all three leads deliver great performances, allowing you to become invested in their characters.

Life Partners is a delightfully unique film about friendship that you’ll want to watch with your own best friend. Screenwriters Susanna Fogel (who also directed) and Joni Lefkowitz mirror the Sasha-Paige friendship in real life, and put that material into their film. They wanted to provide a film about “gays and lesbians having relatable experiences in a diverse world” without “focusing a narrative on ‘coming out,’” which would invariably make it a more niche film. The universality of Life Partners is readily apparent. And its female-oriented subject matter increases its importance in the film world.

John Keith • Staff Writer

Writer. TV Addict. Bibliophile. Reviewer. Pop Culture Consumer. Vampire Enthusiast. LOST fanatic.


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