Life Partners, the new comedy drama from writer/director Susanna Fogel (co-written by Joni Lefkowitz), is a very pleasant movie. It's a well-observed, often well-written movie about relationships both romantic and platonic. It's also so lightweight that it would probably float away if not for three very charming, very likable performances at its center.
Gillian Jacobs is Paige and Leighton Meester is Sasha, two lifelong best friends on the cusp of turning 30 who still spend all their time together talking, complaining about bad dates and watching crappy reality TV. That starts to change when Paige begins dating Tim (Adam Brody), a nice guy with questionable taste in T-shirts and a penchant for quoting movies. Though it seems like Paige is just taking the next logical step forward in her life, it creates a rift in her friendship with Sasha, who continues to date immature party girls and working as a receptionist at a job she hates while writing an album she's not really writing.
I also liked how unimportant Sasha's sexuality is to the story being told. We see her go on dates (with the likes of Kate McKinnon and Abby Elliott, both of Saturday Night Live) and meet up with some of her friends (who are also lesbians, played by Beth Dover and Gabourey Sidibe), but she is not defined by her sexuality. It is merely another aspect of who she is and never treated as anything by every other character in the movie. She's the closest I've ever seen a movie come to representing the gay women I know in life -- you know, in that she's a three-dimensional person who happens to date women. You could change the sexuality of either character and not actually affect what Life Partners is about, which is the relationship between two best friends. That alone feels progressive.
At first, I wasn't so sure I was going to like the film. There is a terrible exchange about cockblocking in the first two minutes that sounds like the kind of overwritten shit I would have come up with at 19. At that moment, I steeled myself for the next 90 minutes, expecting the worst from Life Partners. It was unnecessary. From that moment forward, the script has a relaxed naturalism to it that's totally winning. I love the way that Tim has flaws right from the outset, and they're the kinds of flaws that can be irritating but not deal-breakers and are never treated as such. Sasha is a bit of a fuckup, but not in the usual "I can't get my life together but I'm adorable!" romantic comedy way. Her friendship with Paige is, of course, both the driving force and the best thing about the film; it's rare that I can see a movie in which two best girlfriends spend a birthday drinking cheap wine and playing a garage sale copy of Girl Talk and not want to throw up in my mouth. But Life Partners avoids the feeling that it's overly impressed with itself or too precious about the girls' relationship. Jacobs and Meester have excellent chemistry and always seem like actual best friends.