‘Life Partners’: So?

December 2, 2014


Marriage changes everything, whether you’re the one getting married or the best friend watching your pal coupling up with someone else.

What happens to a certain kind of codependent friendship when one member finds a significant other? “Life Partners,” the first film by Susanna Fogel, would like to answer that question. Instead it settles for sitcom setups and punchlines, muddling the issues by making the still-single half of the equation both gay and an underachiever.

Her name is Sasha (Leighton Meester) and she’s a secretary-receptionist whose parents support her because they believe in her dream of becoming a singer-songwriter. Not that she’s either writing songs or singing them, which is a major impediment in her career.

Meanwhile, she spends all her spare time with her best friend Paige (Gillian Jacobs), a lawyer whose dating history is as checkered and unfulfilling as Sasha’s. They’ve known each other forever, can finish each other’s sentences and serve as support system/playmates.

Then Paige meets Tim (Adam Brody), who not only becomes her boyfriend but, eventually, her fiancé. And try as she might, Paige can’t help get caught in the middle between Tim and Sasha in their struggle for her attention.

Things get weird as things tend to do. Suddenly, the girls’ guilty-pleasure-watching of cheesy reality shows together takes on a whole different vibe when Tim joins in. Guys don’t get “The Bachelor.”

It’s no longer just Paige and Sasha. It’s Paige and Tim – and Sasha. Moving toward just Paige and Tim.

Jacobs and Meester have a giggly, snarky wavelength together that lets these friends make jokes about everyone they see, as well as themselves. But Fogel’s script never gives us anything deeper than, gee, I’m jealous of your new relationship.

The fact that Sasha is a lesbian who’s never had a long-term relationship seems like a gimmick rather than an organic part of the story: Here are two friends with relationship problems, but now one of them is actually in a relationship and doesn’t want to hear about the other one’s problems.

Meanwhile, if the message you get from this conflict is that gay women are jealous of their straight friends’ relationships, that’s not a positive step. Call it the law of unintended consequences.

In the end, “Life Partners” feels both slight and generic. Too bad.


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