Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 8, 2015)
For a love triangle with a twist, we go to 2014’s Life Partners. The film introduces us to longtime pals Sasha (Leighton Meester) and Paige (Gillian Jacobs). Sasha is gay and Paige is straight, but this doesn’t matter, as their platonic friendship offers their longest-lasting relationship.
Matters change when Paige meets Tim (Adam Brody) and falls in love. This inevitably threatens Sasha and causes potential rifts in the longtime friendship. We follow the various interactions and see how they impact the buddies.
As a straight guy with a lifelong gay best friend, Partners offered a story of particular interest to me. At least, it had potential in that regard, as it seemed like it might give us a different take on the basic narrative in which one friend feels left behind when the other gets into a relationship.
Instead, the lesbian side of Partners doesn’t really matter. Oh, those elements factor into the plot in terms of settings – like bars or parties – but they don’t make a difference in the story, really. Sasha could be straight and the movie wouldn’t evolve in a different manner, so the choice to make her a lesbian feels gratuitous.
I do appreciate that Partners never attempts to make Sasha and Paige a couple, though. When Sasha becomes frustrated over the way the friendship changes, we don’t find the almost inevitable scene in which she declares her romantic love for Paige. It would’ve been easy for Partners to shoehorn that angle into the tale but it avoids it, which I like.
Despite those positives, Partners comes with some problems that sabotage it in the end. In particular, it makes Sasha and Paige fairly unlikable. I don’t think it intends to do so, but it does, as they come across as relentlessly self-absorbed and smug.
Granted, I understand that the narrative needs some of this to depict their growth/evolution. After all, Partners wants to be about growing up and becoming “adult” to some degree, so it needs to give Sasha and Paige flaws to “fix”.
Unfortunately, it makes these defects so substantial that we find it tough to care about them. Sasha just seems lazy and shiftless, while Paige is a narcissist who lies rather than ever admit mistakes.
This comes out most egregiously in a running thread about a car accident. Paige texts as she backs her Prius out of her driveway, and this leads her to hit her neighbor’s vehicle. She blames him for a bad parking job and refuses to admit fault.
Again, the movie uses this plot point to eventually depict Paige’s growth, but by the time she changes, it’s too late. We’re so tired of her shenanigans that we’ve passed the point of no return. The movie’s best scene occurs when Tim finally tells off the manipulative, lying priss.
Partners does capture some elements well, such as the awkwardness when one friend introduces a significant other to another friend, and the actors do reasonably well in their problematic parts. The film simply feels too contrived and cobbled together to succeed, though. It feels more like a compilation of character notes than a coherent narrative.