There's a naturalism to Joe Swanberg's latest feature 'Drinking Buddies' that is rarely captured on-screen, let alone in what is ostensibly a romantic-comedy. Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson) work together at a small Chicago brewery, sharing their lunches, jokes, and generally flirting away. Pretty normal behaviour - except they're both in other relationships, with Ron Livingston's Chris and Anna Kendrick's Jill respectively.
Kate and Luke appear to spend an incredible amount of time drinking, although usually in the company of their fellow co-workers. Away from their colleagues, the couples spend time with each another, and things inevitably get a little messy - albeit arguably not in a predictable fashion. Each person must decide the path best suited for them but these decisions are not as easy and obvious as a more typically Hollywood film may portray.
The realism induced by Swanberg is undoubtedly largely due to the improvised (and often humourous) nature of his script, and his ability to coax strong performances from his cast. Wilde is on particularly good form, while 'New Girl' man Johnson offers an impressive performance but an even more impressive beard. Kendrick and Livingston deliver adequate performances but are constrained by the roles they must play.
Ultimately, 'Drinking Buddies' is somewhat underwhelming, ending in a rather open manner - neither frustrating nor satisfying. But perhaps that's just reflecting reality, an intentional echo that does not quite resonate with me. On the other hand, 'Drinking Buddies' is quite possibly the best advert for craft beer I've ever seen and I was scrambling for a pint as soon as the film ended.
'Drinking Buddies' is out today in UK cinemas through Sony Pictures.