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The Boston Globe

Movies

MOVIE REVIEW

‘Drinking Buddies’ offers romance with a few cold ones

Can two people be each other’s soulmates and worst-case scenarios at the same time? For the first half hour or so, “Drinking Buddies,” the new film from the prolific indie writer-director Joe Swanberg (“Hannah Takes the Stairs”), looks like it’s traveling in the well-worn ruts of romantic comedy, “When Harry Met Sally. . .” division. Two witty, attractive young leads snipe at each other mischievously and in perfect synch, their friendship an obvious cover for their chemistry. They’re involved in outside romances but we know, even if they don’t, that they’re made for each other. So how long before the inevitable happens?

Swanberg, bless his perverse heart, is more interested in the evitable. A graduate of the Mumblecore school of filmmaking and an astute student of human nature, he points “Drinking Buddies” in directions that defy our expectations and explore, instead, the entropy of human interaction. Which is to say that if you come to the movie expecting the sassy rom-com it’s being sold as, you’ll be disappointed, maybe even angry. I had to see it twice to realize how good it is.

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