Sometimes when you see a film you know very little about, it lets you down. But in the case of the new film Drinking Buddies, the opposite was true for me. It is a delightful movie.
Written and directed by American independent filmmaker and actor Joe Swanberg, Drinking Buddies revolves around the life of Kate (a charming and beautiful Olivia Wilde). She works at a Chicago brewery, and the film chronicles the relationships she has with her co-workers, including a very close one with Luke (a very good and natural Jake Johnson). Kate and Luke have great chemistry. It could sexual chemistry, a will-they-or-won't-they scenario, or it could be that their chemistry makes them as close as brother and sister. They spend lots of time together -- at work, and after work, drinking (what else?) beer.
Kate does have a boyfriend, Chris (the good looking Ron Livingston), a clean cut finance-type with a good job and a nice home, who leads a more structured life, opposite to the free-spirited Kate. Luke is also in a relationship, with Jill (Anna Kendrick), a relationship that is heading towards marriage. But it appears that Kate and Luke make the better pair; they have a good time at work together, enjoy each other's company, and make each laugh. They are very compatible and so close that they seem perfect for each other. When both couples go away on a weekend trip to a cabin in the mountains, and when Jill and Chris find themselves kissing after taking a hike together, the question arises: which couples will survive the weekend?
Swanberg has created a simple, believable, charming film about a woman who doesn't realize how beautiful she is, and who is happy with whatever life has in store for her. Wilde (who was last seen on the big screen in Rush, and who was on television's long running show, House) makes the movie her own. Her girl-next-door attitude and warm personality makes for a great lead character, and Jake Johnson as Luke is the male version of Kate. He also is simple, happy, and loveable with his unshaven beard and pouchy stomach. Kendrick and Livingstone are also both very good in their roles as the other halves. Drinking Buddies is an excellent effort from Swanberg, whose previous features have been unrecognized and unnoticed. Drinking Buddies will put Swanberg on the map of directors and screenwriters to look out for. Well done, Joe.