This film is an antidote to the traditional romcomTwitter/YahooEnt

I am a bit of a romcom junkie. I love watching people fall in love, and the dumb scenarios that writers create in order to pull people together and apart and then back together. Growing up, my favorite movie was Notting Hill, and a conservative estimate puts me at having seen A Maid In Manhattan 200 times – not to mention all the Austen adaptations I’ve plowed my way through. Movies can’t tell us everything about how we live our lives, but they do give us a primer on expectations, actions and reactions. So, when my best friend started her first serious relationship, I expected to feel happy and excited for her. But, curiously, my predominant feeling was abandonment and confusion.

I don’t want to abandon the romcom, but I would like it to wise up

It wasn’t until several years later that I stumbled across Life Partners. Released in 2014 to absolutely no fanfare, the movie stars Leighton Meester (Sasha) and Gillian Jacobs (Paige) as best friends whose relationship is tested when Paige falls in love and gets engaged in short order. There’s a healthy dose of romance between Paige and new beau Tim, and a heartbreaking amount of trying between Sasha and Paige. Sasha is happy for Paige and respects her new relationship. Paige tries to make time for Sasha and Tim. They still plan each other parties and say ‘I love you’ all the time. But the ground has shifted beneath them, and tensions boil over. I felt validated by the unintended breakdown in Paige and Sasha’s friendship, and I suspect anyone whose best friend has started a new serious relationship will do as well.

It also took the best friend as a serious character

I wish that I had been able to watch this movie before any of my friends fell in love. Which is to say, I don’t want to abandon the romcom, but I would like it to wise up. There have been some movies and TV shows recently that have done a better job delving into the complexity of human relationships without taking the romantic shine off of things (e.g. Tuca and Bertie); Life Partners falls firmly in this category for me, and it gives a smart depiction of friendship and romance in simultaneously coexistence.

Life Partners feels complexly plural. Rather than a singular life partner, Paige has two; both Tim and Sasha are irreplaceable parts of her life, and she doesn’t have to choose between them. It was the first film I had ever seen that was firmly embedded in romcom territory – from the cheesiness to the color grading – and that also took the best friend as a serious character, not a trope to magically show up with a tub of Ben and Jerry’s when the central relationship inevitably goes wrong and melt into the background when the happy couple rides into the sunset.

I don’t want ever to watch a typical romcom again

It’s subversive about the assumptions we make, like the idea that being engaged or married makes you a more mature person: a big point of tension between Paige and Sasha. This comes to a head in a massive fight, when then-engaged Paige accuses Sasha of being immature because she has never been in a serious relationship and seemingly isn’t trying to be in one. Immediately, the film pivots to Paige scratching her neighbor’s car whilst texting and driving, then refusing to take responsibility for the accident and lying to Tim about the fact that she was on her phone. It’s not that Paige is more mature than Sasha, or vice versa – it’s that they’re both fleshed-out, flawed people with room for growth in different areas.

Paige and Sasha don’t get around to fixing things until, in the last quarter of the movie, they fight about why they both feel so bad. It takes some sulking and some introspection, but they get over themselves in the end. My friend and I also had a fight about what was happening in our friendship. I don’t remember what we said or how we got there, but by the end we figured it out.


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I don’t want ever to watch a typical romcom again and I don’t want the ‘Galentine’s Day’ mentality to turn friendship into ‘Romance Lite’. But I would watch more movies that have the plurality that is so often deadened in romcoms – but that don’t lose their feel-good sweetness. And if, this Valentine’s Day, you want a movie little romance and a little friendship, a happy ending, a few laughs and maybe even a tear, for your consideration: Life Partners.

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