First Hit: Better than expected film about an alcoholic comfort zone and relationships.
Kate (Olivia Wilde) likes her independence. She chooses when to see and have sex with her boyfriend Chris (Ron Livingston). She works at a brewery with Luke (Jake Johnson) with whom she has a close, flirty drinking relationship.
Luke is obviously attracted to the beautiful Kate but also has stable, grounded, thoughtful girlfriend named Jill, (Anna Kendrick). Immediately the story lets you know that Luke doesn’t want a lot of responsibility, lives in Jill’s home and likes the laid back boozy life of making beer, drinking any time at work and after work with Kate and their work mates.
Jill is a responsible teacher, wants a long term plan, marriage, and a family. Kate is lost and although we never get why she is so afraid to commit to Chris or any one, Wilde makes the audience want her character to find happiness.
Chris, with limited screen time makes his presence known that he’s looking or more than a boozy late night booty call. The lynch pin of the film is a 2 day trip the four of them take together to a mountain cabin, where it becomes obvious who is better matched to whom.
The obvious issue of functional alcoholism is never addressed directly, but we see where it is going although the protagonist may or may not.
Wilde is excellent at being the beautiful girl who is afraid to commit personally. Livingston, makes his presence known in his few pointed scenes - good job. Johnson is superb at being the laid back, nice guy, and friend to all while being a functional alcoholic. His verbal manipulation not only tricks others but belies himself as well. Kendrick, is very good as the controlled woman, who has a plan for her life and seems to love Luke for all the wrong reasons. Joe Swanberg wrote and directed this film. He’s writing is spot on for the characters although they might be too clearly defined, he cannot be faulted for this. His direction and scenes are set up well and work really well.
Overall: A surprisingly enjoyable and thoughtful film.