Movie Review: “Life Partners” is About a Lesbian, Not a Man

This is a review for the movie Life Partners, a film in which everything that could go usually wrong in a lesbian film inexplicably doesn’t! I know you probably read the logline (“Two codependent best friends — one straight girl, one lesbian — and the man who comes between them”) and wanted to shoot yourself, but don’t! This movie isn’t about the man at all! The lesbian isn’t harboring an unhealthy crush on her straight best friend! NO ONE DIES! Am I blowing your mind? It sucks that our bar for “gay” movies is so low that those things alone makes a movie worth seeing but this movie goes beyond that and is fun and enjoyable! It’s a new day, maybe! Exclamation point!

Life Partners was directed by Susanna Fogel and co-written with Joni Lefkowitz (who is a homo). Its cast includes Leighton Meester (the lesbian), Gillian Jacobs (the straight), Adam Brody (the man), Gabourey Sidibe, Abby Elliot, and Kate McKinnon. What a bomb ass cast, y’all. And worth mentioning, most of the secondary characters are Sasha’s (Meester) friends/girlfriends which means the movie is largely populated with queer women. The film is funny, sweet, and enjoyable with a straight forward plot which makes it a perfect hook-up film because no matter when you come back to it, you’ll know what’s going on. I think maybe the secret to making a good gay movie is to make it a comedy because then there’s no need for excessive DRAMA because for some reason DRAMA can only come in the form of death and/or men.

The friendship between Sasha and Paige was fun to watch and didn’t stress me out which is probably helped by the fact that the co-writers are real life friends and they told this story previously in a play of the same name. Tim, the doctor Paige falls for, isn’t some perfect guy that descended from the heavens which helps Paige from falling into any romcom leading lady traps. In fact, the character that’s closest to the usual romcom woman is Sasha. She’s the fuck-up that’s always dating people unworthy of her and clinging to a bottle of pink wine. Even so, I was never upset by her mistakes or mumbling under my breath about what an idiot she is. She’s a woman with a job she hates and a dream she’s not sure she believes in any more, not a self-sabotaging loser waiting to get saved by someone else. In other words, she’s like a real person.

sasha

I think the film made a lot of smart observations but unfortunately none of them were about lesbian culture. As far as those jokes go, it was all sort of been there, done that (U-Haul, Subaru, etc.) and while it is fun to see that since we’re rarely afforded such delights, I was hoping for the same pithy humor regarding gay stuff. Given Sasha’s whole dating “immature” women storyline, the opportunity was there because those women weren’t really immature, they were young. It would have been great if they were 29 and living at home or 29 and a serial single or 29 and feeling behind their straight friends, because there’s a lot to explore there and it could have started with Sasha reading this advice from Riese. I think a lot of queer women do feel like they’re playing catch up and I would have loved to see that be what connected all of Sasha’s failed relationships rather than blaming her partners’ youth.

If that were the case, I might have felt a sense of catharsis surrounding Sasha’s storyline. She ends the movie jobless, single, and what seemed to me an unfulfilling reconciliation with Paige. I suppose this rings true to how things are in real life though. As queer women who often get a late start on romance, we don’t have the same signifiers as our straight counterparts on when we are officially Grown Up. We have to give ourselves permission to consider ourselves as such which is what I think Sasha eventually does. I hope that this movie is the permission “gay movies” need to grow up as well.

Life Partners is currently available via on demand platforms and iTunes and will be released in select theaters on December 5, 2014.

Brittani Nichols is a Los Angeles based comedy person. When she's not tweeting about white people or watching television, she's probably eating pizza. Actually, she's probably doing all three of those things concurrently and when she's not doing THAT, she's sleeping. Brittani also went to Yale and feels weird about mentioning it but wants you to know.

Brittani has written 330 articles for us.

18 Comments

  1. When I read the summary of this film I said “You’ve got to be kidding me”, as a brunette lesbian whose friendship with her blonde (straightish) best friend fell apart after she meets the love of her life I was basically convinced someone was following me around taking notes on my life. So I can afford this film points for realism. But that seems like too little praise. I laughed, I cried, blah blah blah but I also felt myself represented. I’m not really part of a “queer community” and so to see the relationship between a queer and a straight girl portrayed without one sided love, or pining, or breaking up other relationships was so refreshing.
    I’m sure critics will say we need more films about queer lives, but many of us don’t live in a magical queer bubble and to see that on a screen was affirming to me.
    I love this film, I sent a text to my former best friend (who is my Paige) and felt a little bit of hope for the two of us.
    This film gives me lots of feelings and I hope people watch it and feel them too.

  2. THERE ARE SPOILERS HERE, BUT REALLY HAVEN’T WE ALL WATCHED THEM ALREADY!!

    I watched the fish child when it was on Netflix, a lot of fucked up things happen in that movie, THERE IS A REAL, ACTUAL GUN FIGHT, and when nobody died I almost felt cheated. I was ready, I knew what happens in lesbian movies.

    And then I watched Viola di mare, because I hate myself.

  3. This movie was just excellent. Wonderful. No cliches at all (that I can think of) and I was heavily invested in both these women’s life, friendship and relationships. I liked that they BOTH grew up a little in their own way and it was not just about one changing the other, or one moving ahead without the other, or one clinging to the other. And my god could I relate to them, BOTH of them.

    ASDKJHFGKSJHADG. I really loved it, it felt like a nice ride overall, and a very well explored friendship.

  4. I thought the movie was rather cute. But I still I want to know where this magical, daytime bar that’s full of queers and serves Bloody Mary’s is located at.

    I also had a bit of a laugh at how Sasha kept attracting types who still lived with their parents/at home because that has been my experience as of late. I started to wonder if it was a thing.

    All joking aside, it was a good film and I am recommending it to anyone who’ll listen.

  5. What a cast! Even the male character isn’t horrible, as he’s played by my poor, confused 13-yr-old self’s #1 celeb crush, Seth Cohen!

    …but does anyone know where one might watch this film for less than $9.99? I’m usually willing to pay for content, but that feels expensive for a rom-com rental…

  6. I really liked this movie. Also, for any Minneapolis Autostraddlers, it was super awesome to see the skyline, local bars and other familiar places in the movie! I wish Herkimer were that cool and a gay bar in real life! The outside looks like that but it’s definitely not like that with the rad patio and bloody mary’s and queers all over the place! haha Movie magic!

  7. I thought this movie was so good–one of the funniest queer comedies I’ve seen in a long time! I thought that tagline was awful and totally inaccurate. The “man that comes between them” is not even a little bit the issue. Thank gawd.

    This can not be understated:

    This movie isn’t about the man at all! The lesbian isn’t harboring an unhealthy crush on her straight best friend! NO ONE DIES! Am I blowing your mind? It sucks that our bar for “gay” movies is so low that those things alone makes a movie worth seeing but this movie goes beyond that and is fun and enjoyable! It’s a new day, maybe! Exclamation point!

  8. Omg I’m so glad you gave this a positive review. I’ve been dying to see it. My first thought (and immediate text to my sister) when I saw the trailer was “BLAIR WALDORF IS GAY BLAIR WALDORF IS GAY YAYYY”

  9. Watched this last week and I was surprised, it was a lot better than I was expecting. Loved the storyline around the friendship and found it very related able.

    Plus Seth Cohen! If there must be a man in the movie he’s the perfect choice.

  10. A friend of mine told me about this film and actually forced me to stop what I was doing to watch the trailer and she was excited in my behalf but then for some reason it didn’t stick in my mind, I was like “okay another film with gay women” but then, something happened, Brittani of Autostraddle reviewed it and just from the teaser preview I saw on Facebook, I was sold! I just finished it and man that was a good one! I’m glad I saw it and I kind of related for a bit there and now I feel guilty for being jealous of my straight (girl) friend’s relationships and for some of the times I felt left out. HAHA anyway highway, ending my rant now. Just wanted to echo everyone’s comment and Brittani’s advice: WATCH THIS MOVIE! Fanks! 🙂 PS the actors and actresses did a great job in portraying their respective roles – esp Leighton!!

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