It Came from Netflix - Drinking Buddies
This is another entry into my on going series of reviews of films that is available to stream on Netflix. Today I will review the film, Drinking Buddies. It stars Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, Ron Livingston and Jason Sudeikis. It is an independent romantic comedy written and directed by Joe Swanberg that touches on the complications of friendship with the opposite sex as well as the bond between drinking buddies. It is not a conventional film, but that is such the case when you see independent films. However, the conversations and interactions between the characters feel very real making it a rather entertaining film. To my surprise, after looking into the film I found out that most of the scenes were unscripted and the actors had to improvise what they would say in given scenes and what they would do. Thanks in large part to their ability as actors and their chemistry with one another it helped in creating a fun and realistic romantic comedy film that does not feel familiar.
The plot follows Luke (Jake Johnson) and Kate (Olivia Wilde) who are two close friends at work and outside of work at the brewery they work at. They frequently grab drinks and some food together at work and after work while generally being inseparable. However, both of them have significant others making their friendship strictly platonic. Luke has a fairly serious relationship with his fiancee, Jill (Anna Kendrick) who is a teacher and has her life together looking forward to a long future with Luke. Whereas Kate's relationship with her boyfriend, Chris (Ron Livingston), lacks passion. Chris comes off as a very nice guy but a bit socially awkward, where Kate is very outgoing. The four of them decide to have a getaway where they go to Chris' family cottage by the beach. Chris enjoys going on long walks, as does Jill, while Luke and Kate stay at the cottage playing cards and drinking games.
After the getaway, Chris realizes he is wasting his time with Kate and breaks up with her causing her to go on a drunken tirade the next day with the guys from work. She makes some questionable decisions that Luke does not agree with and tries to keep her from making a mistake. Instead of continuously drinking he begs her to talk to him about what happened, but she clams up on the subject and refuses to talk. Luke feels a need to be there for his friend which begins to seemingly put a strain on his relationship to Jill, who also is harboring a secret from her boyfriend that is eating away at her on the inside. All of this has the set up of a very familiar tale, but surprisingly it does not go as expected.
Joe Swanberg does a terrific job of setting up a realistic romantic comedy film that likens itself more to Derek Cianfrance's Blue Valentine as opposed to a usual kind of genre film. The fact that there was not a script also goes to show how talented the actors are and how great of chemistry they all had with one another. The one outcast being Ron Livingston, but, that is very much by design. Luke and Kate's friendship is so genuine and realistic that it almost does not feel like we are watching two characters, it feels more like a look into Jake Johnson and Olivia Wilde's friendship. Whereas Luke's relationship with Jill has much more heart and he clearly looks at her differently throughout the film. There is a curiosity he has about he and Kate, but he knows deep down that it would be wrong. All of it again is a tremendous performance by the actors. As for the directing, Swanberg does a fantastic job holding onto longer shots allowing the actors to act off of one another seamlessly. Holding onto these shots just a little while longer then we are used to also adds to the drama and tension between these characters. If you have Netflix, I recommend giving this film a watch.