Promoted as “a romantic comedy with commitment issues,” “Sleeping with Other People” definitely does not have any issues getting the audience committed to its endearing and modern storyline. This romantic comedy follows the stories of two late bloomers who lose their virginity to each other in a one-night stand in college and head in their own directions. Years later, in very different places in their lives, they meet again.
The lead couple, Lainey and Jake, played by Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis, respectively, strike up a friendship at a sex addicts’ meeting but decide that the relationship must be kept strictly platonic if they hope to stay in each others’ lives. Set and shot in New York, this film premiered at Sundance and TriBeCa Film Festivals earlier this year, and gave a fresh perspective to the tried and true tropes of the romantic comedy genre.
The movie’s irresistibility lies in the progression of the protagonists’ relationship. Even though it starts out purely physical, the heart of the movie chronicles the lead pair as best friends. When they take sex off the table they become all the more intimate, advising each other on their romantic lives, having loud private conversations in the middle of department stores and taking drugs before going to a child’s birthday party. The joy, silliness and honesty Lainey and Jake exude in these scenes is what grabs the heart of the viewers.
As the two grow closer throughout the film, the warmth and chemistry between the actors is palpable. Along with insightful and witty work from writer and director Leslye Headland, the characters create unforgettable moments throughout, from the struggle to find an unsexy safe word to the climatic scene where Jake fights to stay on the phone with Lainey at a police station while defending himself with a desk lamp.
Rather than coming off as cheesy and shallow, Headland’s fresh take on the tired genre is a success. This portrayal of a lasting connection in a generation that insists on instant gratification feels like something worthy of aspiration. Brie and Sudeikis’ realistic, flawed characters and their believable acting make it apparent why Jake and Lainey would begin to care for each other as they help each other overcome unhealthy tendencies and find love.
It’s cute. It’s funny. It’s insightful. The balance of heartfelt and laugh-out-loud moments of “Sleeping with Other People” makes it worth a long-term commitment. “Sleeping with Other People” comes to theaters on Sept. 11.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Sept. 8 print edition. Email Anubhuti Kumar at [email protected]