Romance blooms between a serial cheater and a womanizer in the trailer for “Sleeping with Other People,” the latest offering from “Bachelorette” writer-director Leslye Headland. More than a decade after making their sexual debuts with each other in college, Lainey (Alison Brie, “Community,” “Mad Men”) and Jake (Jason Sudeikis) reunite under unlikely — and decidedly unromantic — circumstances: a support-group meeting for sex addicts.
“We just spent the entire evening talking about how we screw up every sexual relationship. We gotta just be friends,” Lainey insists. The pair, who can’t stop sleeping with other people, resolve not to jeopardize their budding friendship by also sleeping with each other. The two alleviate sexual tension by utilizing safe words and distracting themselves with fun activities like taking drugs before attending a child’s birthday party.
And yet. “Jake is taking up emotional real estate that could be occupied by a real option,” Lainey’s friend sagely advises. The two aren’t technically a couple, but they act like one — complete with shopping trips, walks through the park and eating His and Her pints of ice cream in close quarters on the couch.
“I challenged myself to write [and] direct a romantic comedy,” Headland told Women and Hollywood in anticipation of the film’s premiere at Sundance. “People trash talk the rom com,” she explained “but it’s one of the oldest cinematic genres, with stellar origins like ‘Twentieth Century’ and ‘Trouble in Paradise.’ I think as audiences lost their innocence, the genre lost its suspense. To create suspense, you need obstacles, so I gave my couple an obstacle that very few people ever overcome: their own behavior and their past.”
See if Jake and Lainey can overcome the odds — in this case, their persistent and powerful self-destructive tendencies — when “Sleeping with Other People” opens September 11. Natasha Lyonne and Amanda Peet costar.