‘Sleeping with other People’ celebrates, meditates on romance

IFC Films/Courtesy

In “Sleeping With Other People,” a refreshing romantic comedy that interweaves humor with heart-wrenching moments of passion and love, Lainey (played by Alison Brie) and Jake (played by Jason Sudeikis) revisit their relationship after losing their virginity to each other years ago. When seeking counseling after consistently ruining relationship after relationship because of sex addiction and infidelity, the duo finds that love is not as simple as it may seem. Writer and director Leslye Headland of “Bachelorette” portrays an honest tale of true love while using the motion picture to question if men and women can be just friends.

When Lainey and Jake reunite upon seeing each other after what seems like a lifetime, it seems as if fate is rooting for the two to finally be together. Yet the two decide to keep their relationship strictly platonic as a result of both having histories of disastrously messing up relationships they have been in. They use the code word “mouse trap” to indicate that they are experiencing sexual tension toward each other, are careful to set boundaries and make a pact to stay friends while sleeping with other people.

At first thought, sticking to the idea of “just friends” seems like a great plan. Yet the rules they initially stick to become more difficult to follow as the chemistry heightens. When one of them tells the other about whom he or she slept with, jealousy arises. When a man hits on Lainey at a party they go to, Jake steps right in. When Jake tells Lainey about a woman he is seeing, there is an uneasy shift from comfortable silence to forced conversation. So instead of acting like a couple, why don’t they just become one?

The answer to that question is not an easy one. As Jake mentions in a conversation later in the movie, he does not sleep with people whom he risks losing. With every passing scene, the viewers get a sense of how much Jake and Lainey mean to each other. They are there for each other and, most importantly, see beneath each other’s masks. They are best friends above anything else, and that alone makes their foundation strong. Being together or sleeping with one another would put the two at risk — a risk of things falling apart, a risk of ruining their friendship and a risk of losing each other.

The plot advancement throughout the movie strengthens the characters. By exploring the notion of what love is and means to people today, the motion picture is modernized and relatable to many. The humor is difficult to follow at times, especially when references to specific ideas are made, but the amusing jokes delivered by each actor throughout the scenes successfully send giggles up and down the aisles of the theater. Taking the next step from friends to lovers or even strengthening an existing relationship can be scary, but the risk is worth it for the right person — just as in the case of Lainey and Jake.

In a world where many believe that men and women cannot be “just friends,” under certain circumstances, they can. Of course, sometimes feelings get in the way. The emotions that we try so hard to mask and put away reveal themselves when we would least expect them. But sometimes they don’t. Sometimes there are no feelings — no spark, no passion, no romance. Sometimes it is possible to be just friends. Yet in Lainey and Jake’s case, with their obvious chemistry, it was clear from the start that they were meant to be together.

Love, when it is right, can be the most powerful thing. It can bring people together or tear people apart. It can save or break lives. When it is right, it can make you sharper and stronger with every passing day. As viewers witness in the love story of Lainey and Jake, love can be worth it.

Contact Mana Anvar at [email protected].