The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Drinking Buddies | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Drinking Buddies

A brewery rep struggles with her attraction for a co-worker.

Directed by: Joe Swanberg
Starring: Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, Ron Livingston, Jason Sudeikis, Ti West

Kate (Wilde) and Luke (Johnson) are coworkers at Revolution Brewing (actually a real Chicago brewery). While they behave as though they're a couple rather than just platonic buddies, both of them are in relationships; Kate with record label agent Chris (Livingston), Luke with special needs teacher Jill (Kendrick). Both couples appear outwardly mismatched. Chris and Jill are active, considerate and conservative drinkers while Kate and Luke are slobbish, narcissistic and enjoy a beer or ten. When the quartet spend a weekend at Chris's rural cabin, Kate and Luke opt to stay behind and drink while Chris and Jill go on a hike. What unfolds throws a spanner in the works of the group dynamic.
As humans we spend most of our lives in silence, even when in the company of others. When we do speak we rarely actually say anything. Our actions, however, betray us in ways our words may seek to cover up. Indie film-makers, conscious of their limited means, so often make the mistake of over-compensating with dialogue, resulting in needlessly verbose scripts that tell us little about the characters. The truth is the simplest human actions often make for the most cinematic moments. 'Drinking Buddies' best moments are its many silent ones, its protagonists sitting in awkward silence, unable or unwilling to express their feelings for each other. The film's closing shot, which plays out in silence and brilliantly uses a banana (not like that you pervs) to tell us heaps about the characters involved, is arguably the best ending to a film this year.
After a string of roles that amount to little more than eye candy, Wilde gets a chance to show she can act and boy does she grasp it, delivering one of the year's best performances. Playing drunk is often a sure fire way for an actor to embarrass themselves but Wilde is the most convincing drunk since Ben Gazzara's incredible turn in 'Tales of Ordinary Madness'.
Rom-coms are often criticized for casting actresses who seem far too attractive to be alone. "Surely Katherine Heigl could get any man she wanted?" is the type of question these casting choices bring up. Swanberg addresses this through Kate's behavior towards men. She's well aware of her appeal and uses several men to satisfy her sexual needs, attempting to make up for the emotional fulfillment she longs for from Luke. She's something of a tragic character, one who could change her situation by being a tad less narcissistic. But, the truth is, people rarely change. Swanberg doesn't send Kate on any kind of character changing journey; she's no different at the movie's end than she was 90 minutes previous. The film is all the more real and relatable for it.

Eric Hillis