Drinking Buddies (2013)
Directed by Joe Swanberg
Starring: Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, Ron Livingston
Fun, good-looking characters who drink beer in almost every scene? Count me in!
Have you noticed that what you get from an indie-romcom has become almost as predictable as mainstream romcoms? But sometimes it’s not just about going from point A to point B, it’s how you get there and in Drinking Buddies, there is a lot of potential.
Set in Chicago, Kate (Wilde) and Luke (Johnson) work for a craft brewing company and are the kind of friends who you notice are a bit closer than just friends. They spend their lunch breaks besides one another, laugh a bit harder when one of them makes a joke, and they love to go out drinking together. But both are involved in relationships. Luke is with Jill (Kendrick) and Kate is with Chris (Livingston).
Things drastically change when the two couples decide to take an overnight trip together at Chris’ lakeside cabin. There is drinking, flirting, kissing, and even some nakedness involved, but you might be surprised as to which actually pertains to whom. One thing is for sure, everyone’s relationship changes after the trip. The rest of the movie takes a look into Kate and Luke’s lives and whether they want to take the leap, or if they want to work on what still exists.
Joe Swanberg is a part of the mumblecore movement, which allows the actors an extended time to improvise their scenes for more natural dialogue. While I don’t doubt that these actors would’ve been able to make a well-written script come to life, there are some scenes when the improv got in the way of finishing the scene in a timely fashion. Conversation was just too random at times and often too pointless, which makes a large bulk of the movie seem like filler to the semi-complicated plot. Yes, there were some discussions that real people would have, but that doesn’t make it great dialogue in a movie.
The main cast, especially Wilde and Johnson, did a fine job here at fleshing out the uncomfortable story of friends wanting more with the tension and awkwardness it needs. In the end, though, it’s just another independent film that tries to avoid clichés, but by doing so it becomes one.