“Life Partners” is a sweet, slightly uneven film

In Life Partners, Paige (Community’s Gillian Jacobs) and Sasha (Leighton Meester) are enmeshed, co-dependent best friends at the crux of their own existential crises. Both women are nearing 30 (you know, the age where everything wonderful ceases to exist) and have settled into a sort of comfortable ennui with each other. Paige is a moderately successful lawyer and a bit of a control freak, while Sasha wastes away at a boring desk job despite her music degree and uber supportive parents.

Sasha is the Peter Pan type of lesbian we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in film and television. Other than her relationship with Paige, she bounces from brunch to brunch, and girl to girl. (Think Shane McCutcheon with less swagger and more wool hats.)

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Paige and Sasha have settled into their intense but platonic life together—until Paige meets the nerdy but sweet doctor Tim (Adam Brody). Before long, Tim’s presence causes a rift between the women that neither of them quite knows how to navigate. What do you do when your best friend falls in love? How do you find a way to make all the pieces fit?

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The frustrating thing about Life Partners is that it has so much potential yet finds a way to undermine itself. Very rarely do we get to see a completely platonic relationship between a straight woman and a lesbian and with Paige and Sasha there is no underlying unrequited love storyline. How wonderfully refreshing. Jacobs and Meester have a lovely chemistry, which makes you yearn for more screen time between the two. However, at times the film feels slanted towards Paige and Tim’s courtship rather than the friendship between the women. Sasha’s story gets shortchanged, and her character development stifled. On the other end, Jacobs and Brody have a distinct lack of chemistry, which makes you ask yourself time and time again, why is Paige settling for such a milquetoast relationship?

Supporting characters Jenn (played by the fantastically funny Beth Dover) and Jen (Gabourey Sidibe) are underutilized but enjoyable as hell when onscreen. Kate McKinnon has a small guest part as the date of our nightmares (or dreams) and the great Julie White plays Paige’s intense but likable mother.

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In recent years, the “unlikeable character” has become commonplace in film and television. We don’t have to like a character to want to go on a journey with them, but it sure as hell doesn’t hurt. Together Paige and Sasha are a force to be reckoned with. Apart, they are adrift and less engaging. If the film had really focused on the friendship between the women, rather than the elements tearing them apart, it would have had so much more heart. Gillian Jacobs has terrific comic timing, and Leighton Meester is a charming spitfire. I just wish more were on display.

That being said, Life Partners is still a sweet little film, and considerably more entertaining than many rom-com/buddy flicks out there. Written by real life best friends Joni Lefkowitz and Susana Fogel, and directed by Fogel, you can’t help but want to root for Paige and Sasha. Don’t let the rainbow suspenders fool you however, it’s not a queer film. It’s actually quite chaste as well, so don’t expect any hot and heavy love scenes for either character. It’s a film about friendship, and finding your place. It may not live up to all the hype, but it’s worth watching with your bestie, over popcorn and tequila.

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