Drinking Buddies (3 stars)

Drinking Buddies

Olivia Wilde steals the show in this low key romantic comedy

This fresh and rebellious quasi rom-com liberates the glamorous Olivia Wilde from the shackles of two-dimensional studio fare, reinventing her as a laidback tomboy involved in a romantic quadrangle. Joe Swanberg (Hannah Takes the Stairs) is one of the mumblecore movement's finest and most prolific directors and the largely improvised Drinking Buddies is a highly likeable – if not quite fully rounded – tale of a woman wobbling her way through life.

Wilde plays Kate, a hard working employee of the Chicago based Revolution Brewing, an independent brewery run by Gene Dentler (Jason Sudeikis). Kate might be good at her job – a fact Gene takes full advantage of – but she's a bit shambolic when it comes to her domestic and romantic life.

As the only female employee Kate is embraced as one of the boys and enjoys sampling the product so much that at work she sports permanent shades to combat the ever-present hangover. Life is pretty sweet but when she and drinking buddy colleague Luke (Jake Johnson) head off on a short cabin break with their respective partners – Chris (Ron Livingston) and Jill (Anna Kendrick) – it looks like both relationships might be headed for the rocks.

The film's drowsy aesthetic (wonderfully woozy cinematography comes courtesy of Beasts of the Southern Wild's Ben Richardson) and nicely informal see-how-it-goes vibe fits with its beer-guzzling, slacker leads. However, as Swanberg's feature moves toward its conclusion its lack of direction becomes more detrimental, and although it's nicely cast (including a cameo from The House of the Devil director Ti West), this ensemble flick feels more like a one-woman show. Seemingly effortlessly, Wilde steals the film from her co-stars, in a role where she's finally given room to breathe as an actress.

Limited release from Fri 1 Nov.

Drinking Buddies - Official Trailer (HD) Olivia Wilde, Anna Kendrick

Drinking Buddies

  • 3 stars
  • 2013
  • US
  • 1h 30min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Joe Swanberg
  • Cast: Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick
  • UK release: 1 November 2013

Kate (Wilde) is a hard-working, tomboyish employee of Chicago-based Revolution Brewing, whose friendship with colleague Luke (Johnson) becomes strained when they each go on a mini-break with their respective partners. Like its protagonists, it's highly likeable, if a bit directionless; Wilde is outstanding.