Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Movie with Abe: Our Friend

Our Friend
Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Released January 22, 2021

Many people consider their romantic partners to be their best friends. That’s hardly a universal sentiment, and it’s very often true that, for heterosexual couples, both people involved have their own preexisting relationships with individuals of their same gender. When one of them is very close with someone of the opposite gender, feelings of jealousy or suspicion can emerge, a problem that can only be solved if both partners feel connected to that person and as if the dynamic is truly platonic. When that is the case, it’s an invaluable bond that can be especially crucial in the face of tragedy.

Nicole (Dakota Johnson) and Matt (Casey Affleck) are happily married and serve as parents to two young daughters, Evie (Violet McGraw) and Molly (Isabella Kai). They experience rough patches when Matt’s work as a journalist keeps him on assignment and away from home for extended periods of time, but their greatest struggle comes when Nicole’s health declines severely and they are forced to prepare for the worst. Their good friend Dane (Jason Segel) shows up to offer his support, doing his best to comfort both of them and care for their children as they face a difficult future.

This film’s title explains Dane’s role in Nicole and Matt’s lives, which is charted through flashbacks that also fill in the way in which Nicole and Matt’s own romance evolved and changed over time. Matt is at times suspicious of Dane’s interest in his wife, and the fact that he is physically absent for a substantial period of time does not help matters since it creates opportunities for resentment and for Dane to be present when he is not. When they need him most, Dane steps up in a big way, which of course does not come without its own issues as emotions are heightened and interactions are rarely calm and pleasant.

These three stars are all strong actors who have done excellent work in very varied projects in the past. Johnson, who I remember from her breakout TV role on “Ben and Kate” and is most well-known for the “Fifty Shades of Grey” film series, handles the weight of her part well and conveys a deep love for those she knows she may need to say goodbye to far sooner than she thought or hoped. Affleck, who dealt masterfully with incredible loss in his Oscar-winning turn in “Manchester by the Sea,” is typically moody, but this isn’t his best work. The same goes for Segel, who is affable and genuine but not nearly as well-used as he often is in comedies. This film is compelling at times but ultimately unextraordinary in its depiction of an unconventional three-way friendship and the way in which people show up in different ways when they’re needed most.


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