ENTERTAINMENT
12/04/2014 12:58 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

'Life Partners' Totally Nails Female Best Friendship

Opposites attract in the new film "Life Partners" -- but for once, the relationship in focus is a platonic one. Susanna Fogel's directorial debut, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April, features Gillian Jacobs and Leighton Meester as inseparable, 28-year-old best friends. Jacobs plays Paige, a lawyer who has a hard time when things don't go her way; Meester is Sasha, a confused aspiring musician who works as a receptionist. The pair lives like true best friends do: they have a weekly date to drink wine and watch "America's Next Top Model" (which often ends in a sleepover), and swipe through each other's Tinder matches with abandon. Paige is straight, Sasha is gay, and they are both looking for love.

But when Paige finds it in Tim (Adam Brody) while Sasha remains (mostly) single, the long-solidified dynamics of their relationship begin to shift. The film explores territory usually left uncharted after a rom-com's happy ending: how friendships hold up after true love enters the picture.

HuffPost Entertainment spoke with Jacobs about "Life Partners," platonic and romantic love and why "Community" is like being in a bad relationship.

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Early on in the film, your character tells Sasha she wants to find someone she likes as much as her friend. Paige falls in love with Tim, but there are certain little things -- her watching "America's Next Top Model," his making constant movie references -- that they never understand about each other. What do you think the film's trying to say about these differences?
Well, I think that it’s not as important to have everything in common with your partner as it is to love and respect them, and have a good time with them. It’s okay to have differences. I think sometimes when you’re younger you’re like, "We have to like the same movies and the same music and the same books and everything has to be the same." But I don’t think that’s necessarily true, and you might be passing up on a lot of great people if you’re just focused solely on that. I think Paige stumbles there with trying to give him a makeover. But eventually she learns her lesson to just let him be Tim because he loves her. And he’s great for her.

Do you think there are certain things that female or platonic friendships can provide that romantic relationships can’t?
I think that sometimes we’re weirdly able to be more vulnerable with our platonic relationships because you’re not as worried about rejection. I think that knowing someone over a long period of time -- they know you in a different, deeper way. They’ve seen you through your highs and your lows and at various stages of your life and things you probably care to forget. And there’s really something valuable in people having that long-term knowledge of you.

life partners

"Life Partners" comes at a moment where other projects focused on female friendship -- like "Girls" and "Broad City" -- are popping up as well. Do you think there’s something specific about this point in time that’s finally bringing these stories to the forefront?
I wonder if it’s all a run off effect of "Bridesmaids." When you have a really commercially successful film centered around female friendships, that sort of gives everyone permission -- whether it's in movies or TV. And then I think the fact that all these shows are really good and are drawing an audience encourages people to make more shows like it. I'm very encouraged by what’s going on right now.

I was struck while watching by how rare and refreshing it is to see a film like this in which a gay character's sexuality is incidental. Did that aspect draw you at all to the project?
Yeah, I really like that about the film as well. It's not a coming out story. It’s not someone coming to terms with their sexuality. Sasha's not struggling or grappling with that and so often I feel like that’s the storyline. So it’s really great to have a story where you meet somebody where they've gone through all that. That’s in the past and now they’re just dating and trying to figure out who they want to be with. But there's not a lot of that questioning going on. It's not a "Very Special Episode." And also, the fact that it doesn't turn out at the end that Leighton is secretly in love with my character. It's not falling into any of those tired tropes.

gillian jacobs community

It was recently announced that Yahoo would pick up "Community" for a sixth season. Has it been stressful to work on a show whose fate has been so consistently uncertain?
Yeah, it’s been like being in a bad romantic relationship. Where they want you, and then they don’t want you, and you’re not sure if they’re gonna break up with you, and then they stay together, but then they ultimately dump you. It’s been like being in a crappy relationship. But there was some sort of weird relief in that the worst happened -- we were canceled by NBC -- and the world didn’t stop spinning. We’re all fine. And now, weirdly, the show is having new life. I think it’s made me way tougher. Thank God I have a job that I wanted to keep -- that I wasn’t secretly hoping would be canceled. Because I know other actors who feel that way. I'm lucky to have a job I like.

"Life Partners" hits select theaters Dec. 5. This interview has been condensed and edited.

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