Luke and Kate are co-workers at a local brewery. While Kate manages the clientele, Luke works behind the scenes as a brewer. The two have a ton of chemistry and spend most of their time drinking and being very flirtatious. Why aren't they an item? Mainly because they both are in relationships. While Luke has been in long running relationship with Jill, a teacher, Kate's relationship with Chris, a music producer, appears to be much more low-key. Joe Swanberg's Drinking Buddies is a solid relationship drama that does a great job at balancing its comedy and drama elements. Swanberg knows how create well-defined characters and Drinking Buddies strength lies in the charming lead performances by Jake Johnson and Olivia Wilde. While Kate and Chris' relationship feels out of convenience from the beginning, Luke and Jill's relationship is presented as genuine and loving. The film teases this concept of Luke and Kate falling in love but really the film is truly about how lost both of these character's are. Both are afraid of commitment and as the film progresses we begin to realize that Luke's connection with Kate is more brotherly than romantically driven. Kate's one night stand with Dave, another co-worker, is a perfect example. We are fooled into thinking Luke is merely jealous but what develops is more protective quality. I found myself questioning whether Luke just felt sorry for Kate, trying to take care of her any way he can. This would definitely be the strongest approach, given the early trajectory of the narrative and character dynamics, but I do think it's little unclear what Swanberg is trying to say. Swanberg uses alcohol as a cinematic cheat, making it easier to create these situations between Luke and Kate, further blurring the lines in their relationship. I think in the end Swanberg is commenting on the blurred lines between friendship and romance that can co-exist but I don't think it was as wise or profound as some give it credit for being. While I certainly enjoyed Drinking Buddies like most Sundance movies I found it overpraised.
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