“Drinking Buddies” is a 2013 film directed by Joe Swanberg. It stars Olivia Wilde as Kate, Jack Johnson as Luke, Anna Kendrick as Jill, and Ron Livingston as Chris. Kate and Luke both work at a brewery in Chicago and are good friends with an underlying chemistry. The film focuses on their relationship with their significant others, Chris and Jill, as the two couples gets to know each other together and separately.
On surface level this movie is incredibly predictable, it shows Kate and Luke as the more compatible couple, and Jill and Chris in the same light. As they all go to Chris’s cabin together, you can see how the natural pairings should play out. When they return to Chicago and the relationships are placed under greater strain, you feel yourself rooting for Kate and Luke to get together. The situations seem so strikingly similar to any romantic dramedy you’ve ever seen that you are entirely sure of how the relationships will play out.
However, you will likely find yourself to be entirely wrong. This movie is likely the most honest depiction of relationships during peoples mid to late 20s that I have ever seen. The characters are flawed in real ways, by which I mean their flaws are not typical or immediately understood. Furthermore, their relationships evolve in ways that mirror real life instead of depicting our preferred version of it. To help with this honest depiction, most of the film is actor improvisation on basic outlines and there is minimal use of a soundtrack.
This combination gives the dialogue and movements more impact. Scenes that would utilize music to add drama are instead entirely silent except for the dialogue or lack there of. Swanberg executes this with perfection. Instead of having these scenes fall flat, the absence of superficial sound increases the intensity by ten fold. I believe this is because the situations are so relatable to anyone who has experienced a semi-serious relationship that they draw you in, because you can understand how any small change in tone or choice of words could change the direction of the situation.
For example, Luke and Jill’s late night conversation about marriage was entirely awkward, entirely tense, entirely irritational, and entirely real. You want to shake both the characters, because you know deep down, that you would probably be one of the two if you ever had the same conversation. When Kate reads in bed with Chris at the cabin the imbalance in commitment between the two can be seen without anything being said.
Overall, this movie is not what it seems. As someone who usually goes for the clich***é** romantic comedies that I know the end of before the movie is even five minutes in, I was surprised by how much I loved this movie. It was easy to stay absorbed in it and difficult to tell what the outcome would be. Without giving too much away, the end is unexpected but at the same time entirely satisfying. In my opinion, this is a must see if you’re in your twenties and fairly laid back because you’ll find yourself wondering how they managed to capture your day-to-day life and issues so well.