There Are Many Kinds Of "Life Partners" Review

Nothing changed for you.

It would be slightly unfair to prattle on about Life Partners (2014) in the context of gay/lesbian films. First and foremost, it's a comedy and the lesbianism of one of the characters is, in some ways, incidental and mostly uncontroversial. That is to say, there's no struggle with sexual identity or coming of age or dark psycho-sexual elements to the film that dominate most of its consœurs. That said, it does have a scene where they play a game called "How many lesbians can you fit in a Subaru?" so I think we can say this is a lesbian film. If director Susanna Fogel and her writing partner Joni Lefkowitz can ironically bring up stereotypes, then I can point out that they do a grand job of undermining the stultifying stereotype that lesbians (and films about them) can only be solemn or tokens. Life Partners is well-rounded, carving out its own collection of issues of interest while also being pretty damn funny.

Sasha (Leighton Meester) is stuck in a quarter-life crisis without a partner or success in her career. She's pushing thirty and still needs help from her parents to pay rent. She's in a co-dependent relationship with her bestie, Paige (Gillian Jacobs), who is a bit more straight-laced (she's a lawyer) but equally unsuccessful in finding a mate. That is until Tim (Adam Brody) arrives with his legion of message-laden tees and movie references that Paige doesn't understand. As Paige gets past these little issues, she and Tim get increasingly serious while Sasha is increasingly left out. So, while Paige gets her life on track, Sasha is left to muddle through her crisis alone.

It's a nice touch that this film takes on the deterioration of their relationship with a subtle sense of blame. Most films will play out a few key moments of the friendship and rely on clichés to stand in for what might have been an original relationship. In fact, Life Partners does a pretty remarkable job of both giving each character their personality and relationship dynamic in an unrushed, organic way. One could certainly quibble with some scenes, like the Lesbian-Clown-Subaru gag, that feel a bit too easy. Where the vast majority of the film accepts Sasha's lesbianism as a simple fact--there is no explicit pining after Paige--some of the lesbian-oriented moments border on condescending exoticism. There are a number of insights for those who want to collect them, like how straight men respond to lesbianism (not very well), the closed-circuit nature of the lesbian dating scene, but mostly about how people can grow apart.

Not fond of the cover.

Bonus features

Behind the scenes featurettes with "Cast and Characters" and "Production and Costume", "Axs TV: A Look at Life Partners", and a trailer.

"Life Partners" is on sale March 3, 2015 and is rated R. Comedy. Directed by Susanna Fogel. Written by Susanna Fogel, Joni Lefkowitz. Starring Adam Brody, Gillian Jacobs, Leighton Meester.

Jun
02
2015
Jason Ratigan • Staff Writer

A lawyer-turned-something-else with a strong appreciation for film and television.  He knows he can't read every great book ever written, but seeing every good movie ever made is absolutely doable.  Check out his other stuff on Wordpress.

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