Susanna Fogel’s eensy-weensy comedy, “Life Partners,” squeezes more juice from its concept than I thought possible in such a small movie. A lifelong friendship between two women is challenged when one of them falls in love, and their cozy codependence comes to an end.
Sasha (Leighton Meester), a receptionist, and Paige (Gillian Jacobs), an environmental lawyer, are both 29, acutely aware of the passing time and under pressure to put their lives on steadier tracks. They are so close that they almost seem to share a secret language, and the relaxed intimacy of their friendship goes a long way toward filling the absence of serious romantic partners.
Sasha, who is gay, gravitates toward bratty, clingy, younger women. Paige’s search for Mr. Right is fruitless until she meets Tim (Adam Brody), a nice-looking, considerate, slightly nerdy dermatologist. Sexual orientation is not an issue: Neither Sasha nor Paige harbors a secret yearning for the other.
Sasha belongs to a quasi-incestuous clique of lesbians who are continually changing partners. The movie casts an acutely knowing eye on smart, likable, sexually freewheeling women whose depiction seems authentic.
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Tim, to whom Paige becomes engaged after some disagreements about his clothes and her ignorance of his favorite movie (“The Big Lebowski”), has a zany imagination. His marriage proposal is a message scrawled on his back. He is the first person to stand up to Paige, who refuses to admit that she is ever wrong. Paige’s obstinacy extends to her refusal to reimburse a neighbor whose car she damaged.
If this all sounds trivial, it is. But in their trivial way, the characters’ disagreements and petty conflicts are painfully familiar signs of immaturity, and to a degree, “Life Partners” might be taken as a gently needling critique of the millennial generation.
The film’s strengths are its comfortably lived-in performances and the screenplay’s minute details about the characters. The core of the drama is Sasha’s bereavement over her best friend’s partial abandonment. To her chagrin, she realizes that her days of dawdling and procrastination are over; it’s time to grow up.