In Joe Swanberg's Drinking Buddies, there are many aspects that can enable you to view the Romantic Comedy genre in a different light; but the film is ultimately a few puzzle pieces short of showing us the big picture.
Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson) are co-workers and good friends.... almost too good of friends. Kate is about eight months into a relationship with Chris (Ron Livingston), and they seem to have little in common with each other.
Luke is six years deep into a committed relationship with Jill (Anna Kendrick), who seems to really love Luke but has doubts about Luke's commitment to tying the knot. After the four friends have an interesting stay at Chris' vacation cabin, the dynamics shift, and Kate and Luke's relationship is tested again and again as the story moves along. The line between friendship and apparent inappropriateness becomes blurry, especially after a couple drinks.
One of the facets of Drinking Buddies that drives the story so strongly is the revealing of information. There are moments that are almost always shown in typical romantic comedies that Swanberg chooses to deprive the audience of. This will keep you anxious and involved as the story unravels. He also chooses to break the character tropes and resolution that has grown so tiresome in the genre. This film is not about two great friends who have unattached or shitty significant others and somehow finally come to the conclusion that their soul mate has been right under their noses the whole time. Aww. Yeah, no. It is rather an exploration of modern relationships and the boundaries that can be pushed between heterosexual friends of the opposite sex.
Despite all the revitalizing aspects of this heartfelt hipster-romance, Luke and Kate's inappropriate relationship is never really addressed, and my feelings after the credits rolled lied somewhere between refreshing and pointless. Yet, still, the outstanding performances make it easier to roll with.
Drinking Buddies is currently streaming on Netfilx.
Review by Ryan Kramer