From the title, the poster, and a cast deposited right from the bank of cool, you’d be excused for writing off Joe Swanberg’s Drinking Buddies as merely ‘a fun romp’.
However, surprisingly, and very pleasantly so, this intelligent romantic comedy barely romps at all. Instead, what we get, is a cunning and wry look at modern relationships, soaked in a gentle subtlety that will leave a lingering afterthought when the credits roll.
Not to say that Drinking Buddies is a straight dramatic commentary, the movie is still genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, but the director of “LOL” on this occasion isn’t playing for chuckles this time at all. The humour is woven in organically, through the rapport between Olivia Wilde’s wonderfully carefree Kate and Jake Johnson’s Luke, two best friends who work at a brewery who look like they’ve been married for years, but instead have respective partners. As the movie crosses and fades between Luke and Kate’s relationships and the emotional one that they have for each other, there is no big Hollywood romanticizing of the charming sequences of them together, only nuances gradually teased out, partly through the script and partly through the improvisation of the actors.
This is a movie that isn’t dressed up to be any particular genre, or any particular anything. It’s merely a window into real-life relationships, and doesn’t jump to the Breakfast at Tiffany’s style snogging in the rain to represent what ‘romance’ is. And by neglecting to do that, that’s what makes Drinking Buddies quite so romantic.