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Film Review: Drinking Buddies

Photo: Magnolia Pictures, License: N/A

Magnolia Pictures


Drinking Buddies

Directed by Joe Swanberg

Plays at the Charles Theatre Oct. 23 7:30 p.m.

You’ll be thirsty while you’re watching Joe Swanberg’s latest effort. The sudsy stuff shows up in nearly every scene: when co-workers Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson) eat their lunch in the Chicago microbrewery where they work, when Kate drops by the apartment of the older guy she’s seeing (Ron Livingston), when Luke’s longtime girlfriend (Anna Kendrick) joins him and his co-workers for a night out.

Beer fuels Kate’s and Luke’s lives—she works in the front of the house, managing the taproom; he brews in the back—and their partners have passing interest in it. The whole bunch decide to take a weekend trip to a Michigan beach, where Kate and Luke would rather hang around and booze with Founder’s All Day IPA than join their significant others on a nature hike. They’ve got friends-with-benefits chemistry but they toe the line of indiscretion.

Mumblecore director Swanberg, a craft beer fan, admitted at this year’s Maryland Film Festival (at which Drinking Buddies played) that part of his motivation for making this movie was to set it in a brewery. And while the film depicts the culture of craft beer with great accuracy, it also drives at the nature of young people’s relationships. Luke’s girlfriend wants to talk about talking about marriage with him, otherwise he’s skittish. Kate treats her beau like a last resort, a stop on her way home from the bar. And often, the closeness shared between Kate and Luke amounts to a more flagrant transgression than a physical encounter would. For 20- and 30-somethings, Drinking Buddies subtly illustrates aspects of reality.

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