Drinking Buddies is set in and around the working and running of a brewery, where Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson) are co-workers. She’s in a relationship with a wealthy older man (Ron Livingston) and his fiancé (Anna Kendrick) is keen to get their wedding plans moving along. Their friendship is very strong and they have a lot of similar interests, such as the beer they produce and they both share similar playful senses of humour. Their lifestyles revolve around drinking with their co-workers, and for the audience its hard to know whether or not what they share is friendship or something that little bit more.
The film is directed and produced by Joe Swanberg and is an honest and real depiction of friendships and relationships amongst late twenty-somethings. There is sexual tension, tomboyish playfulness and blurred lines around the line drawn between men and women who just enjoy each other’s company. The drama you witness within Drinking Buddies feels real and void of any “film like” over- dramatization; no dramatic realization that one person is with the wrong partner, and no overly thought out inner battles over whether or not each character should be with one another. Some would say it is exactly how you or I would deal with the various situations that present themselves – sit on them until absolutely necessary then apologize profusely! – With the right balance of humour, relatable trials and tribulations of modern day relationships and that awkward feeling where you’re pretty sure there’s underlying sexual tension between you and a friend – this film manages to capture issues that often burden the general public more than anything and yet depict it in such an enjoyable way.
Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson are incredibly believable as the lead characters who share this surface based brother/sister /best friend style friendship; and a lot of this is to do with the heavily improvised scenes which not only make the audience feel like they’re catching a glimpse through the keyhole of a group of peoples lives but also help you to dispel any potential distaste towards Wildes beautiful and likeable girl next door persona. You can understand why Luke likes Kate, she’s one of the boys, and is always the one up for some fun. What you do question within this film is why there isn’t any suspicion or doubt from each of their characters other halves. Their tactile approaches to each other can be a little hard to swallow sometimes and yet you’re still routing to see if they eventually take the brave step to cross that all important line.
What these characters represent is often the realistic approach to potentially something better suited to ones self. Its clear to the audience that Luke and Kate would be perfect for each other, yet they never dare to do anything more than think about it. You will leave this film questioning whether or not there are regrets about someone or something that you have had the opportunity to pursue in days gone by, and having taken the safer option, maybe regretted after.
What the director manages to do with Drinking Buddies, is give its audience a glimpse into the days of the lives of people not so different to you and I, everyday jobs and simple pleasures that we all have, essentially, life is a simple construct and sometimes its not really worth the complication. With this in mind Swanberg delivers a film that is fun to watch, quirky in its own right and most importantly get you thinking. Its style is simple and poignant, so wont be everyone’s cup of tea, not much happens throughout, but what does happen manages to get you routing for those you’re watching, laughing at similarities that you most likely will see in yourself, and leaving hopefully with a smile on your face.
Drinking Buddies hits cinemas 1st November.