Avid movie watcher and sometimes harsh critic with dreams of writing stories himself.
Our Friend is an endearing and incredibly heartfelt film that doesn't do anything new with the material. Its strength is in the writing and the performances. Beyond that, it also comes at a time during a pandemic where everyone could use the heart and care of a friend. The world can be a really difficult place, especially for those that deal with chronic illness. This film shows in great detail how the people closest to us will always help us push through whatever horrible tragedies you may endure. Our Friend truly does a great job of reminding us all the wonder of life, the joy of living it, and the absolute grief of losing it all in a masterful, albeit sometimes slog of a way. It is a difficult subject to grasp for most films, having cancer at the forefront, as too often films will turn it into a trope of some sort in order to change a character's life for the better. For instance, a young bright woman gets cancer and uplifts her boyfriend's life as she enlightens and inspires him. Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite isn't interested in common plot points or tropes as she keeps the film ever so grounded in the reality.
The plot follows Matthew (Casey Affleck) and Nicole Teague (Dakota Johnson), a young married couple that have loved each other through each others ups and downs, and even infidelity. Their lives get challenged in the worst way when Nicole is diagnosed with cancer. It forces Matthew to stop going overseas chasing stories for him to write about and stay at home to take care of their two kids and Nicole. This in turn turns Matthew into a ghost of sorts, rummaging about from one thing to another in order to keep things afloat for his family. In comes Dane Faucheux (Jason Segel), an old work friend of Nicole's, who puts his life and love life on hold in order to help Nicole and Matthew with their tragedy. At first he thought it would just be a week, but as he arrives he sees that Matthew and his two children aren't truly living a life among this devastating crisis and decides to stay and see it through to the end.
Our Friend benefits from a steady strict focus on keeping the film grounded in the reality of the situation and never gives into a big revelation of how wonderful life is. It's also in the hands of the terrific performances given by it's leads that sentiment gets delivered to the audience. Casey Affleck gives Matthew Teague a silent but nearly broken strength as he plods through the house making his two daughters breakfast in one scene to the next. Jason Segel oozes charisma in each scene and is so earnest and genuine as the thoughtful and deeply caring Dane. Dakota Johnson does a phenomenal job in showing the grief of losing one self to the horrors of a soul sucking illness. Segel stands out as the true star in this soggy realistic drama and largely keeps the film from falling off the tracks. At times it can be extremely hard to watch but through his wit and charm, your eyes are glued. Affleck on the other hand, can be a bit of an intense actor, which is by no means a criticism but his entire performance throughout Our Friend is very subtle and quiet. The chemistry between the three actors further makes the film seem all the more real. It is nearly impossible not to feel something for these people who all care so deeply for one another.
Gabriela Cowperthwaite does a great job with this drama, even though its pacing slows down a bit halfway through the film it still manages to keep the audience engaged with the plot and characters. She captures the good, the bad and ugly of love, parenting and sickness in such a gripping and realistic way that it is difficult not to identify with as an audience. The script is also expertly crafted and incredibly authentic by Brad Ingelsby. The film could have easily drifted into overly soggy melodrama that teeters on the edge of being a young adult film ripe with hamfisted messages. It is a masterful job for the most part and he shows great promise in his young career as a screenwriter, in fact the same can be said by Cowperthwaite as both are new to the industry. Lastly, Our Friend is released at a perfect time into the world as we are all facing and dealing with new horrors amidst a pandemic and we could all use a friend as caring and honest as Dane.
Dan Klizano from Twilight Zone on February 01, 2021:
Great review. I honestly haven't seen this movie, but I'll be sure to check it out when i get the chance. Thanks.
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on February 01, 2021: