Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Now on Netflix: Drinking Buddies (2013)

Drinking Buddies movie poster Olivia Wilde
Drinking Buddies (2013) - Written and Directed by Joe Swanberg; Starring Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, Ron Livingston, Jason Sudeikis, Ti West, Joe Swanberg.

By Kenny Howell

One of the hardest working men in independent cinema, Joe Swanberg, is back with a film about some drinking buddies that may or not be on the verge of a romantic relationship.

Swanberg (Happy Christmas) makes Woody Allen look like a lazy bum, as he has had 12 movies released that he directed from 2011-2013. I don't think that is necessarily a good thing, but Drinking Buddies turned out pretty well.

Olivia Wilde (Rush) and Jake Johnson (The Pretty One) play Kate and Luke, good friends that work together at a small brewery outside of Chicago. Kate has a music producer boyfriend (Livingston) and Luke is with Jill, who is pressuring Luke toward marriage. The two couples go away for a fun weekend of drinking and hanging out on the beach. Some things that will be left unsaid happen and make the four reassess, to varying degrees, their relationships.

The strength of the movie is Swanberg's ability to show the characters flaws, and not tie things up easily. Relationships, plutonic and romantic are really complicated things, and most movies miss that point. Swanberg realizes that the distinction between the platonic and romantic is often muddled. Wilde's character is probably the most well-drawn, alternately charming and sad, as she struggles to keep things together. It's really one of Wilde's best performances. I think the movie being improvised holds it back a bit, and some actors handle it better than others. But the drinking of actual alcohol during the film probably makes it better. So it balances it out.

Drinking Buddies is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: ***

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