Drinking Buddies

Directed By: Joe Swanberg

Starring: Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, Ron Livingston, and Jason Sudeikis

If this year has proven anything, it's that romance films are all but dead.  Just take a good look at the movies of 2013, and see if you can find some grand film with a sweeping romance.  You won't find it.  At best, you'll find Safe Haven, a watered-down, formulaic imitation of what romance movies once were.  Perhaps this is because our rather cynical generation of moviegoers prefers not to watch sappy love movies.  Perhaps filmmakers are out of ideas on how to make romantic flicks refreshingly heartwarming and appealing to this generation.  Regardless, there's not a whole lot of love at the movies these days.  The fact that Joe Swanberg's romantic comedy-drama Drinking Buddies is relegated to a VOD release proves this.
Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson) are co-workers at a Chicago brewery and insanely flirtatious best friends.  You wouldn't know that Kate is dating a guy by the name of Chris (Ron Livingston) or that Luke is dating a girl named Jill (Anna Kendrick).  These two chummy buddies spend quite a bit of time together on and off the job.  Kate and Chris are clearly not in a relationship that's going anywhere, and college sweethearts Luke and Jill are still just sweethearts and nothing more.  When the two couples leave the city and head for Chris's cabin in the woods, this all becomes abundantly clear.  As usual, Kate and Luke end up spending more time with one another than their significant others.  After the events of the trip, Kate and Luke have to figure out whether they're just friends or something more.  In the meantime, it's obvious to everyone else that they're perfect for each other.

Drinking Buddies is a decent romantic comedy-drama that offers an intimate look at soul mates who don't know they're soul mates.  With a rather somber tone and a calm, soothing soundtrack, Joe Swanberg has crafted a low-key film that has a homey feel.  Swanberg offers a piercing romance that permeates a web of relationships and an interesting drama that will mostly hold your attention.  I have to say that there are a few dry spots in the movie where they'll nearly lose you.  Also, there's little to no comedy in a film that dubs itself as a comedy, which seems to be a bit of a problem to me.  Despite these issues, Drinking Buddies is an enjoyable indie film.

Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson have impressive chemistry on screen.  It's even more impressive when you consider the fact that they're improvising all their scenes.  It's just so natural, and they work so well together.  Wilde is a free spirit, and Johnson is a goof.  When the on-screen couple avoids confronting the question of whether their close, flirtatious relationship can be something more, the tensions between the two escalate, and we get to really see another side to their interactions.  In their more tense and awkward scenes, it's not about what Wilde and Johnson say.  It's about what they don't say and their body language.  Ultimately, what these two have on screen is authentic, and their strong performances are at the center of this movie.

Drinking Buddies gets a 0.06% rating.  I thought about recommending a glass of wine or two, but that would just be wrong in a film like this.  Have a few rounds of beer with this one.