Gabriela Cowperthwaite's Our Friend is a touching drama about friendship and perseverance, with three spectacular and deep performances by Casey Affleck, Dakota Johnson and Jason Segel. Our Friend will make you both laugh and cry (and cry some more) with ease.
Gabriela Cowperthwaite‘s Our Friend is one of the year’s finest dramas, brilliantly and beautifully intertwining three people’s (Affleck, Johnson, Segel) lives as one of them becomes deathly ill and the other two are left taking care of them. The complexity of life and the struggles it can hold confronts the power of love and the strength of relationships as Our Friend highlights the importance of friendship and the ultimate realization that time is finite and the things we chose to do with our brief moments on this planet are more important than anything else.
Matt (Casey Affleck) and Nicole (Dakota Johnson) are married with two girls and seem to be living a mostly normal life. Matt is a dedicated journalist, which requires frequent trips away from the family for an extended period of time, while Nicole is a lover of theater and is a performer by profession. Together, the two seem like your usual married couple.
And then there’s Dane (Jason Segel). Dane was originally Nicole’s best friend that once accidentally asked her out on a date, not knowing that she was married. Quickly, his friendship branched out to Matt, which makes all three of them best friends.
Things get serious when Matt and Nicole discover that Nicole has a serious form of cancer that is spreading quickly and that she might not have much time left to live. This drives Dane to go one step further in assisting the two by offering to move in and help keep an eye on the kids while Matt and Nicole deal with the hospital trips, the appointments and the craziness that is now becoming their day-to-day reality, while Dane simply puts his life on hold to help his friends get through a tough time.
Gabriela Cowperthwaite‘s Our Friend is scripted by Brad Ingelsby, which is based on Matt Teague‘s (yes the same Matt that is the star of this film) article titled The Friend.
Between the script/article, Cowperthwaite’s direction and a trio of sentimental and downright gut-wrenching performances, Our Friend just might be one of the most moving films that I have seen in a very long time.
The film’s ability to balance such a wide range of emotions with such hope and warmth is spectacular. It definitely might challenge some when it comes to holding back tears, but those tears are earned as the film explores the magic of life through a reflective lens.
Our Friend bounces around the timeline, highlighting how the two first met and fell in love, then bouncing to the discovery of the disease, while again flashing back to a moment in time where Dane was needing some strong guidance.
I believe that the editing of this film is the key to success as there’s so much material to dive through, not to mention more than enough talent to help bring this tale to the big screen without any issue.
In any other hands, Our Friend could have surely leaned into the sappy love story angle or even the goofy comedy, especially given the talents assembled, but Cowperthwaite stays true to the story and hones in on a human drama that’s essentially about life and all of those little moments within it.
She adds in even more complexity by capturing the dynamic between the three core performers in a way that magnifies the importance of friendship and what it means to be in a healthy relationship with someone.
I honestly thought that the film was going to be about a couple and their “odd man out” friend, but instantly was wrong as I saw their relationships unfold on screen and Cowperthwaite’s ability to focus in on the people and how their lives interconnect in a way that makes perfect sense and brings a sense of strength to any situation.
Casey Affleck, Dakota Johnson and Jason Segel all bring their A-game to the table, delivering three of their best performances without a doubt. Affleck’s over-worked, burned-out dad figure is obvious and clearly struggling, yet he never stops loving his wife or trying to provide for her and his family.
Johnson’s Nicole is struggling to accept that her life is expiring and at a rate much quicker than she’d ever expect, which brings forth a whole new batch of emotions and complications that nobody can truly understand unless going through it themselves, yet she makes you feel like you know exactly what’s running through her mind at any given moment. She soaks in the little day-to-day things that most take for granted, while also taking on a bucket list of things to-do before leaving this world, not to mention how to best raise her children both now and after she’s gone.
Lastly, Segel gives another notable performance as the best friend that might not always have his shit together, but still understands the importance of friendship and being there when it matters the most. Naturally, he brings the comedic goods to the table when the mood calls for it, but he also carries a bulk of the emotional weight as his character seems to have less of a grasp on life, despite being the most rock-solid friend one could ever ask for.
It’s not often that you get to see a film that has the ability to tackle such heavy drama in a way that doesn’t feel like a constant downer or a complete life-suck. Our Friend doesn’t shy away from showing you the saddest moments, but it captures everything through the eye of beauty, reminding us all to enjoy each and every moment and to not let yourself overfill with sadness and fear, but to instead embrace it all and to appreciate every single second, even those final moments.
It highlights the beauty of life and the importance of death through a strong friendship of three people that grow into a family over the years, despite having their own ups and downs.
Our Friend is one of those films that the trailer does it no justice. It will have you thinking the film is one thing, but the actual result is something else entirely. I wouldn’t bat an eye at re-watching it via streaming rental for $19.99 or by checking it out at the nearest theater again (if you feel comfortable doing so).
All I can say is that it’s worth the price either way and that you will likely be pleasantly surprised by just how moving the film is. Also, those still associating Dakota Johnson with the Fifty Shades movies will be in for a real treat, because she has proven yet again how great of a performer she is, especially when given material like this to truly engage with.