#REVIEW: “OUR FRIEND”
By Mr. Will Wong
Despite some delays, we finally see Gabriela Cowperthwaite‘s OUR FRIEND (formerly titled The Friend) get its release. The Dramedy based on an autobiographical essay by Matthew Teague that appeared 2015 in Esquire Magazine, premiered at TIFF ’19 to warm reception. Featured are a trio of sympathetic performances from stars Casey Affleck. Dakota Johnson and Jason Segel.
After Nicole (Johnson) is diagnosed with Cancer, we see her and husband Matthew (Affleck) try to prepare for her death. Their best friend Dane (Segel) moves in together with them to help them. OUR FRIEND recounts the journey these three friends go on together, from the tender moments, sometimes to rage as we witness first-hand how a terminal illness can impact not only the person living with it, but also those around them.
The story is told in fragments, allowing a chance for each of our three leads’ stories to breathe. Though in having this much room to breathe, the story moves at times a plodding pace. Matthew is a journalist balancing his family life with being on the verge of his career beginning to take off to the next level as he is often travelling; we also see him face temptation. Nicole is grappling with breaking it delicately to her young daughters that her death is impending, growing increasingly weak though trying to keep up appearances. She has to deal with her husband’s absence at times and also not being able to be as active in theatre, her biggest passion. Dane steps-in as a devoted friend and sees his own relationship with his girlfriend at the time suffer as a result of this his choices. We wonder often what he is running from in life, as we’re unclear where he is in his own journey. But one thing is for sure, Matthew and Nicole can always count on him.
Segel is the heart and soul of the Film and while he isn’t the type of hero whom often is celebrated, the story is Matthew‘s love letter to him. And while coping with terminal illness can render many unhappy things, OUR FRIEND never loses focus of this one thing, the beauty of a true unconditional friendship. Hence while it takes some time to get there, the Film possesses an inspiring message to value those moments we have in our present and in even in the most painful hardship, there often is something rewarding on the other side. And in this case, Teague had a story to inspire the world.
Elevation Pictures release OUR FRIEND digitally and on-demand Friday, January 22, 2021.