This review originally appeared on ScreenPicks.com
Historically, buddy comedies will feature two men who drink together, lament women, and often come close to ending their friendship when one enters into a serious relationship. Life Partners follows a similar premise, but these pals are two women – and we learn from them that regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or occupation, this formula is a tried and true one, if executed correctly.
Best friends Paige (Gillian Jacobs) and Sasha (Leighton Meester) affectionately refer to one another as “husband” and “wife,” cementing their roles as the titular partners. The two have a lot in common: They’re both tough and independent (aside from leaning on one another), and there’s a running gag throughout the film where the two yell at each other as though they’re strangers when they encounter one another on the road.
Paige is an environmental lawyer, so by all accounts, she’s the one who “has her life together.” Sasha, on the other hand, works as a receptionist while she tries to achieve her lifelong dream of becoming a professional musician. But both are experiencing the strange time that is your late 20s – when half of your friends are getting married, having children, and talking about 401Ks, while the other half are just struggling to get by. The two friends casually date (men for Paige, women for Sasha), but both have resigned themselves to the idea that they’re not about to find “the one” just yet, and instead enjoy dishing to one another about the awkward encounters and strange singles they meet along the way.
When Paige begins seeing Tim (Adam Brody), she’s quickly swept up in an unexpected romance with someone a bit more mature than she’s used to. Though we know that she usually dates guys she deems be “losers,” Paige is still also just learning what it means to be an adult. Despite Tim’s somewhat geeky nature, he’s a fairly responsible adult, and this begins to rub off on Paige, which we see in subtle changes to her wardrobe, hobbies, and even mannerisms. This is where the tension begins with Sasha, and the two friends struggle to find a balance between the codependent relationship they once shared, and the strained one they develop throughout the film.
While Paige is with Tim, Sasha also dates, and her girlfriends – Vanessa (Abby Elliott) and Mia (Greer Grammer) – offer a bit of comedic relief when tensions are high, but serve mainly to show Sasha’s lack of good judgment and focus. Many can relate to the struggle of just wanting a warm body or someone who looks up to you, but Sasha recognizes that this was her way of escaping from the harsh reality of trying to find herself.
Though the plot is often predictable, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing in this case. We know that Paige and Sasha’s relationship will become strained, and when Sasha begins to date Vanessa (Abby Elliott), it’s easy to see where the relationship will go wrong. However, it was a bit disappointing that despite Leighton Meester’s musical talents (as seen in Country Strong), we only get a quick flash of her singing and strumming a guitar. One would assume that this was mostly due to time constraints.
Speaking of editing, the initial description that I read regarding this film implied that Sasha was angry about Paige’s engagement because the latter had made a vow that she wouldn’t get married until her best friend was legally allowed to marry another woman. I have to say, I’m glad that this aspect was cut from the film. Sasha’s frustration stemming from the changes in their relationship felt natural, and I think that the inclusion of a broken promise would have been unnecessary, and taken away from the focal point.
Relatable and fun, this is not a shocking or life-altering film, and it’s much better for that. Had the movie attempted to break down some kind of barrier in regards to LGBTQ cinema, it likely would not have been the light-hearted, delightful film it turned out to be. Much like Sasha and Paige’s dessert-filled reality TV nights, Life Partners is comforting and easy to indulge in.