Film Review: Drinking Buddies

I have a confession to make. I only came to even know of Drinking Buddies existence through my slight crush on Olivia Wilde, a crush that has existed ever since Hugh Laurie assigned Dr Remy Hadley the number 13 and started his protracted interview “process”. And it was this crush that lead me to spend a few minutes flicking through Wilde’s “Filmography” and thus, bring Drinking Buddies into my life.

And it’s Wilde’s connection that meant I didn’t bother researching, scrutinising or even watch the trailer before I went heading off to get hold of a copy. Now weirdly, for a recent movie there is a distinct lack of Blu-ray availability in the UK and the DVD versions have been priced highly, and so it’s been a bit of a wait, sitting there in long anticipation of the day the price became sensible to bring it properly into my life and onto my small screen.

This pre-viewing wait and lack of knowledge to the exact plot had the potential to loft my expectations of the film by making it into an event. Combined with Olivia Wilde taking the main lead there was a serious risk that it would be unable to meet the levels and demands in my head but thankfully, what I wanted this film to give me and what it provided were very close to being identical.

There is a real charm and beauty to Drinking Buddies. It has a natural and organic feel to it that means that it takes a simple situation of everyday life, a situation that is played out by millions of people on a daily basis and yet manages to evolve what could easily have became a potentially monotonous and tedious path through this story into a film that captivates and engulfs you in such a way that you fall into it. There is a sense throughout Drinking Buddies that you aren’t simply watching a film, watching a story being told to you, but rather, seeing their lives through your own eyes. Joe Swanberg, as Director, has managed to place you into the room with the characters and not only make you feel welcome but also, feel part of the group, a friend.

Drinking Buddies Screen Grab

And Swanberg, who also wrote and edited the film, has managed to not only create a film that feels friendly and welcoming but also takes you on an amazingly conclusive and cyclical journey that at no point feels unbelievable, questionable or unrealistic. This movie just wreaks of humility and realism and modesty and I love it even more for that. As the film progresses, as your friendship with the characters develop and you get to know and understand them and their respective personalities better the more this film provides and the more satisfying it becomes. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a film in which very little depth or layering is used, preferring instead to use character reaction and situational effect to convey it’s message, has had such a deep a strong connective vibe with me.

My only complaint against this film would be that while the main cast: Wilde, Jake Johnson (who arguably steal the film from Wilde!) and Ron Livingston all bring a chemistry to their roles and strengthen the films feel of realism. You can almost imagine them filming a drinking scene during the day on set and then repeating it in the pub down the road that evening after the wrap. Anna Kendrick, sadly, has a slightly wooden tint to her performance as the fourth main character than means the bond between the other characters never manages to fully wrap around her no matter how hard it tries.

But don’t let one performance put you off, for me, this film really is a breath of fresh air. It had so much stacking up against it:, the slightly off centre “RomCom“, the use of alcohol, the potential “wife swapping”, the whole co-worker angle, on paper this film should be walking a danger tightrope and essentially be nothing more than a bargain bucket flop. But for me at least, it’s easily walked where angels fear to tread and come out completely unscathed and actually, come out leaving me feeling so uplifted and appreciative of the experience that I am going to go look out more of Joe Swanberg’s work and see whether it’s a one off success or the discovery of a film producing gem.

8 out of 10 stars (8 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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