Leighton Meester and Gillian Jacobs star in Life Partners
Life Partners ***
Two long-term buds — a clingy-and-looking, perpetually aspiring musician (Leighton Meester) and a mutually dependent, mostly plugged-in environmental lawyer (Gillian Jacobs) — feel the foundation of their friendship begin to seism when the former is asked to take a back seat to the latter’s latest suitor (Adam Brody, the real life Mr. Meester). The playful blast of road-rage role-playing that opens the picture makes for blissful character set-up. On the surface, it's an LGBT date movie, one devoid of controversy and messaging, thanks to director Susanna Fogel and co-writer Joni Lefkowitz’s waggishly engaging storytelling. But Partners could never incorporate were it not for the chemistry and perfectly paced delivery of its two high-contrast leads, and the depth both bring to their characters. A trip through familiar territory that leads to a predictable outcome and, oddly enough, one I rather enjoyed thumbing a ride on.
Two lifelong friends begin to drift apart when one grows to dislike the other’s taste in boyfriends. That’s the premise of Life Partners, a new romantic comedy opening Friday at Landmark’s Ken Cinema. Leighton Meester, one of the film’s two shining co-stars was on the promotion trail eager to discuss (almost) anything, including the allure of Jack in the Box tacos.
Scott Marks: Do you remember the first movie your parents took you to see?
Leighton Meester: This is actually awful because I don’t remember the very first one. I remember they brought me to The Hunt for Red October.
SM: Great film for kids!
LM: It was really in touch with where I was at as a five-year-old. I just remember being like “Yay! We’re going to the movies!” I’m sure that I’d been to the movies before and couldn’t remember. It was like, ”What is this?” I felt bored and then I fell asleep. I’ll always remember that never having seen it as an adult, but obviously I have heard it’s very good.
SM: You’re probably sick to death of talking about this and if you don’t want to that’s fine. Your mother gave birth while serving time in a federal prison for marijuana smuggling. How old were you when you found out?
LM: I want to be as respectful as possible to you, but I think I just want to talk about the movie, if that’s okay.
SM: No problem. In your relatively young career you’ve already worked in a musical, you were a scream queen in The Roommate, there have been comedies, chick flicks, romantic dramas, pretty much everything short of a western. In what genre do you feel the most comfortable?
LM: I really like switching. I’ve been really happy to be presented with a total variety of different roles, all, for some reason, to whom I can relate for the most part, especially in the last couple of years. Life Partners would be my favorite thing that I worked on because it’s a really nice mixture of funny and sweet and it captures two women as the leads, which is so rare. It was made and written by women and I really like what they achieve as far as capturing a friendship.
SM: Did you know Gillian before Life Partners? Because the two of you come across on screen as tight as the characters you portray.
LM: That’s great and it’s exactly what we were going for. I credit a lot of that to [director and co-writer] Susanna [Fogel] and [co-writer] Joni [Lefkowitz], who I met before hand. Thinking that we might like each other, they presented it like a blind date. They were right. It could be hit or miss, but I think the both of us were bent on achieving as much authenticity as possible. I love the fact that the film is about close female friendship that isn’t competitive or centered around a man. I think both of us have probably experienced that — I know I have — and that’s what I had to bring to the table.
SM: Have you ever been in the situation where you dated someone that your best friend can’t stand?
Life Partners Official Trailer
LM (Laughing): Probably most of them. When your best friend starts dating someone you feel a need to be friends with this person, too. And if you’re not, it sucks. It’s one of those situations where you don’t find out until way later, and then you’re like, “Why didn’t you tell me?” And I’ve been on the other side, too.
SM: Last question. Seriously, other than in the movie, when was the last time you went to a Jack in the Box drive-thru?
LM: It’s so funny that you say that. It actually wasn’t that long ago and I had to admit to myself and all my friends that I ended up going. I was hanging out at my girlfriend’s apartment a couple of months ago. We had dinner and at about 1 o’clock in the morning I felt really hungry. I was on my way home and had to stop and eat some tacos.
SM: Not cheese sticks like in the movie?
LM: I do love those, but I had my fill after eating about a thousand while we were shooting.
SM: Tacos with meat the color of which doesn’t exist in nature.
LM: You know it’s not real meat. It’s tofu or whatever. It actually makes me feel a lot better than eating mystery meat.