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August 7, 2015

Life Partners

by Franz Patrick


Life Partners (2014)
★★★ / ★★★★

Sasha (Leighton Meester) and Paige (Gillian Jacobs) are attached-to-the-hip close when it comes to their friendship. When Paige started dating a dermatologist (Adam Brody) who is funny, attentive and is clearly looking for a long-term relationship, Sasha begins to feel threatened because none of Paige’s former dates or boyfriends have ever been so serious. Sasha, a lesbian, decides to date other women with the goal of recapturing the closeness she had with Paige, but not one of them appears to be a perfect fit. This causes a strain in the women’s relationship.

Written by Susanna Fogel and Joni Lefkowitz, “Life Partners” may, at first glance, appear to be yet another LGBTQ comedy-drama about the trials and tribulations of what it means to be single, gay, and almost thirty, but the material is truly about friendship more than any other label. It is the kind of picture that many will be able to relate with, even if the main characters are women, because we all have that fear of losing a very close friend when someone of importance—possibly of even more importance somewhere down the line—comes along. In essence, it is about being able to adapt to change.

This inability is communicated through Sasha’s reluctance to pursue her goal of becoming a musician. Although she works at a job she dislikes and feels ashamed for still being supported by her parents financially, she partakes in a cycle of humdrum, what is comfortable rather than taking on challenges that might lead to something bigger. This is where Meester’s performance comes in.

I was surprised by the actor’s simplicity and grace. Sasha is not a stereotype because she is portrayed as both masculine and feminine, secure and insecure, a kind person in general but is not above lying through her teeth when situations get tough. Most often, it is less work to rely on extremes to create a character. Sasha is supposed to be immature and Meester communicates that quality without judgment, only with honesty. Thus, I liked Sasha and wished that things would work out for her even though the decisions she makes are not always wise with respect to where she wants to be or hopes to attain.

The friendship between the two women is somewhat sitcom-like at times, often bonding over marathons of “America’s Next Top Model” and poking fun of people in social media apps, but I found that there is a grain of truth in these situations because I know girls like them. They are so close, they are almost soul sisters. We feel they share a common history which proves a challenge to establish compared to similar movies of its type.

Directed by Susanna Fogel, “Life Partners” is at its best when it deals with real situations like two best friends clashing because it is tough to let go a little bit of a former lifestyle. When wounds are still fresh, they get back together because they feel they owe it to themselves and each other since they have a history. We expect their friendship to recover only for the wounds to become lacerated again—this time a little deeper and it hurts a little more. We question if the two could go back to the ways things were… or whether if it would be right for them to do so.

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