#TIFF19: “THE FRIEND”
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
After Nicole (Dakota Johnson) is diagnosed with cancer, her friend Dane (Jason Segel) moves in to help her and her husband Matthew (Casey Affleck) with her appointments and treatments, taking care of their kids and keeping the house in order. And what is initially planned as a short multi-week stay quickly extends into many months.
The Friend is based on a true story, so that alone makes the emotional turmoil this family endures that much more devastating. While some scenes are heavy-handed, the core ensemble of Johnson, Affleck and especially Segel all deliver terrific work. But the Film around them is a mess. It jumps back and forth around timelines much too often, rarely stopping before jumping back into some part of the present. These flashbacks should be developing the characters better, but they seem to function only to piece together a vaguely coherent backstory. They share some facts with us, but keep others enigmatic (although one needless gut punch gets a lot of focus). I understand the struggle of not knowing what to cut, but feel like there was some pertinent information left out that could have taken The Friend from just being good to being truly great. Make sure you bring the tissues.
THE FRIEND screens during TIFF at the following times:
Friday September 6, 6:00pm @ Princess of Wales [World Premiere]
Saturday September 7, 2:30pm @ Princess of Wales