“Drinking Buddies” is a boozy charmer that reveals a lot of depth in simple banter

If you like beer, hanging with the dudes, or even exploring relationship circles told in an effortless way, you’re bound to love “Drinking Buddies.”

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Image Source: Magnolia Pictures

Released towards the end of summer in select US cities and theaters, this quiet little “mumblecore” film packed with all-too-familiar actors is something that epitomizes life as we know it now–as 20 to 3o-something year olds in the year 2013. This could be titled a romantic-comedy, though its cool Chicago booziness and hipster-laden culture is too slick and real to mark off into some cliché genre. It’s charming and shaggy at the same time–giving you the feeling that you’re watching your own buddies interact unaware of a film reel going on–as it explores some real territories of friendships and relationships that you’ve probably witnessed in your own life.

“Drinking Buddies,” a film ultimately about two young adults who are at times kind-of-friendly, kind-of-flirty, and obviously share an undeniable chemistry, easily depicts the highs-and-lows of relationships with confusing unspoken feelings that hint at something deeper underneath.

Cat-eyed beauty Olivia Wilde plays the attractive, “down-with-the-guys” tomboy who works as an event planner at a cool Chicago brewery. As the only girl at work, she regularly drinks with her male co-workers after-hours and gladly beats them at pool. She doesn’t come most alive until she’s with her co-worker buddy Luke (Jake Johnson), in which they share an effortless, comfortable intimacy that allows them to grub without embarrassment, snuggle up and drift off to sleep with no insinuations, and never tire of each other’s company.

Though, the two are already in romantic relationships of their own. As the premise of the film relies on the one weekend-getaway where they literally share a couples retreat when feelings unheard are realized and expressed, relationships are questioned. Kate’s uptight, mild-mannered boyfriend Chris (Ron Livingston) finds a connection with Luke’s long-time teacher girlfriend Jill (Anna Kendrick). We also get a glimpse into Kate and Luke’s affable chemistry, often seeing common parallels and disparities in each of the relationships.

There’s still something entirely comforting about Kate and Luke’s relationship, however. Director Joe Swanberg, known for his effortlessness in allowing his characters to improvise and seem as natural as possible, doesn’t fail here. At one point, Luke kisses Kate (Olivia Wilde) on the forehead and her reaction is as rich and full of life as one would permit. Their frequent glances at each other in which they find comfort in the other boasts on their obvious chemistry; but, their playfully witty and snarky relationship almost serves as the perfect cover-up for that chemistry.

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Image Source: Magnolia Pictures

What’s particularly most charming about this movie is the ongoing banter between two people that perfects in the timing and cleverness we can’t get in real life. Kate and Luke’s verbal fencing and trifling flirtation is a delight to see, though we soon see how disastrous a couple they would be when the banter stops–which ultimately makes the outcome as real and sweet as you find yourself secretly rooting for it to work out in the way their relationship has always worked out.

I have to say, Olivia Wilde was absolutely fascinating as she definitely reveals a lot more depth and ambition than mainstream Hollywood would normally permit. She gracefully reveals the utter pettiness of women who coast by on looks, as her movie-star beauty doesn’t detract from her character’s inevitable attraction. We get a real glimpse into any everywoman living under her circumstances, as Swanberg is able to paint a portrait of genuinely real and relatable characters with all their appeal, grown-up ideas, and naturally nonsensical banter.

This is an easy and fun movie to watch, though, with that comes its easiness to neglect the subtle value inherent in it. The characters are written with ease and placed under circumstances familiar to us. It refuses to preach or hit you on the head with ideas or thoughts about relationships, as much more is said about how things would play out as they would in real life–without any of the extra drama or dragged emotions. A slightly off-beat indie-film charmer with a cool alt-rock soundtrack to match, its joy is found in the unspoken but felt feelings that offer us the normality of reality. It’s real and familiar to us, which is what makes this film so great.

To say the least, “Drinking Buddies” makes you realize how charming love and relationships can be when you can be honest to yourself, with yourself, and with others. It seems like a loosely-written script only because the film plays itself out so naturally; it’s hip, charming, but also takes a witty approach through its characters who hide behind their wits and unsaid feelings. This goes great lengths to talk about the day and age we live in–we can’t help but want to love and root for the charmingly flawed characters we see, maybe because we can see a part of ourselves in them too.

(And, you can tell that this cast sure had a heck of a lot of fun on set. We sense that and feel it. It makes the viewing experience all the more pleasurable… Swanberg allowed a lot of wiggle room for his actors to improvise. So who’s down to crack open a bottle of beer with me now?!)

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Image Source: Magnolia Pictures

One response to ““Drinking Buddies” is a boozy charmer that reveals a lot of depth in simple banter

  1. Pingback: Off Camera with Olivia Wilde | beauty within·

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