Written and directed by Joe Swanberg, Drinking Buddies follows a quartet of characters (Olivia Wilde’s Kate, Jake Johnson’s Luke, Anna Kendrick’s Jill, and Ron Livingston’s Chris) as their relationships are tested after a weekend getaway to a remote cabin. There’s little doubt that Drinking Buddies fares best in its relaxed and easygoing opening stretch, as filmmaker Swanberg delivers an exceedingly appealing atmosphere that’s heightened by the charismatic, note-perfect work of its stars – with, especially, Wilde delivering a seriously impressive turn as a figure that’s barely holding it together. It’s clear, then, that the movie’s hold on the viewer begins to dwindle as time progresses, as Drinking Buddies segues into a meandering midsection that is, in rather typical Swanberg fashion, perhaps just a little too meandering for its own good. It’s the solid work from the actors that ultimately prevents the viewer from tuning out completely, while the film’s emotional final stretch ensures that the whole thing ends on a decidedly positive note – which cements Drinking Buddies‘ place as an erratic endeavor that’s nevertheless a cut above Swanberg’s usual (and mostly unwatchable) output.
**1/2 out of ****