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‘Our Friend’ Review: Tragedy, Tears and a Testament to One Saintly BFF

‘Our Friend’ Review: Tragedy, Tears and a Testament to One Saintly BFF

In
2012,
Matthew
Teague
found
out
that
his
wife,
Nicole,
was
going
to
die.
She’d
been
diagnosed
with
ovarian
cancer;
when
the
surgeon
went
in
to
remove
tumors,
however,
he’d
discovered
that
the
disease
had
spread
everywhere.
Matthew
was
a
journalist
for

The
Atlantic.

Nicole
had
been
an
actor
when
they
were
living
in
New
Orleans,
which
is
where
she
had
met
Dane,
a
theater-tech
guy;
after
an
early,
awkward
moment
in
which
he’d
asked
her
out,
unaware
that
she
was
married,
the
three
of
them
became
close
friends.

Over
the
years,
Dane
would
often
help
watch
their
kids
when
Matt
went
away
on
long
assignments.
So
when
Nicole
was
told
she
had
maybe
a
year
left,
the
couple’s
buddy
thought
nothing
of
dropping
everything,
moving
in
with
them
and
doing
what
he
could
to
pitch
in.
It
takes
a
village
to
aid
a
family
in
processing
an
incalculable
loss.
Or,
at
the
very
least,
one
steadfast
pal
who
stands
by
you
for
better
or
worse,
in
sickness
and
in
health.

Based
on
Teague’s
real-life
story

and

“The
Friend:
Love
Is
Not
a
Big
Enough
Word,”
his
award-winning

Esquire

article
on
the
experience


Our
Friend

is
an
attempt
to
tell
this
tale
of
the
extraordinary
lengths
that
someone
who
truly
has
your
back
will
go
to,
via
an
old-fashioned
tearjerker
template
and
a
movie-star
cast.
Those
factors
alone
are
enough
to
activate
even
a
casual
viewer’s
knee-jerk
cynicism.
(Or
a
critic’s,
something
which
Teague
has
taken
issue
with

in
an
oddly
public
clapback
piece.)

The
fact
that
this
attempt
to
refashion
IRL
tragedy
into
entertainment
is
not
just
a
heaving,
sopping
sapfest
is
a
testament
to
all
involved,
notably
the
cast
and
filmmaker
Gabriel
Cowperthwaite,
best
known
for
winning
over
hearts
and
minds
with
2013’s
save-the-whales
documentary

Blackfish.

Yes,
there’s
the
sort
of
blatant
manipulation
of
emotional
pressure
points
and
full-frontal
heartstring
assaults
you
expect
with
a
movie
like
this.
But
there’s
also
a
sense
of
trying
to
bring
the
good
and
the
bad
(if
not
the
more
outright
ugly)
parts
of
this
story
to
the
screen
with
a
sense
of
resolute
dignity,
restraint
and
even
something
like
a
sense
of
taste
at
unexpected
moments.
It’s
not
trying
to
soft
pedal
what
happened
to
the
Teagues
and
this
extended
member
of
their
family,
nor
is
it
trying
to
whip
things
into
soap-operatic
delirium.
The
balance
it
tiptoes
between
these
two
poles
is
far
more
impressive
than
you’d
expect.

And
you
do
get
the
sorrow
and
the
pity
that
Matthew
and
Nicole
experience
as
they
attempt
to
endure
this
terminal
illness,
courtesy
of

Casey
Affleck
pitching
the
former
in
muted-grief
mode
(the
actor’s
not
going
into
full

Manchester
by
the
Sea

rage
and
numbness
here,
but
he’s
close)
and
Dakota
Johnson
not
playing
the
deteriorating
latter
to
the
rafters,
even
as
her
decline
steepens.
Yet
you
also
get
other
aspects
of
their
life
together,
from
the
rockier
moments

there’s
talk
of
an
affair

and
the
bliss
they’ve
experienced
before
time
began
running
out.

As
for
Dane,
casting

Jason
Segel
to
play
the
best
friend
who’ll
do
everything
from
put
the
family
dog
down
to
fix
the
kids
lunch
ends
up
paying
out
dividends.
He’s
an
actor
who
excels
in
lovable
fuck-ups,
and
while
his
goofy-uncle/loyal
compadre
may
have
had
some
conspicuous
edges
sanded
off,
he
lets
you
understand
that
this
guy
hasn’t
got
his
shit
together
at
all.
Even
when
the
script
by
Brad
Inglesby
keeps
prodding
him
into
St.
Segal
territory,
you
get
the
feeling
he’s
less
interested
in
halo-polishing
then
looking
at
the
places
where
that
angelic
crown
is
tarnished.

You
can’t
blame
any
of
them
for

Our
Friend
‘s
rare
dips
into
maudlin
sentimentality,
or
for
the
detours
the
movie
takes
that
drag
it
into
touchy-feely
territory
(we
love
Gwendoline
Christie,
but
the
sequences
involving
Segel
and
her
German
hiker
would
have
been
best
left
on
the
cutting
floor).
There
always
seems
to
be
something

the
unexpected,
and
unexpectedly
effective
use,
of
Led
Zeppelin’s
“Going
to
California”
to
score
a
rough
sequence;
an
exchange
that
swerves
away
from
shameless
pathos
and
into
more
complicated
emotional
terrain

that
gently
lifts
this
drama
out
of
a
grief-porn
gulch.
More
often
than
not,
it
trusts
that
the
wallop
of
the
story
itself
is
enough
to
keep
folks
invested,
and
avoids
goosing
viewers
unnecessarily
into
laughter
and
tears
and
life
lessons.
It
takes
a
road
less
traveled
to
the
inevitable
farewells,
and
that
alone
separates
from
its
more
waterworks-pandering
peers.

We
as
a
society
have
a
hard
time
processing
death,
and
have
been
taught
to
use
a
certain
vocabulary
when
mourning
our
lost
family
members
and
loved
ones.
Like
the
essay
that
gave
birth
to

Our
Friend,

it
starts
off
as
one
thing
and
ends
up
as
an
ode
to
one
hell
of
a
BFF
for
the
ages.
(Being
a
great
friend
when
your
wife
is
dying
means
never
having
to
say
you’re
sorry.)
Yet
its
strength
really
does
lie
in
its
ability
to
recognize
grief,
in
all
of
its
raggedness
and
messiness,
and
not
shy
away
from
it.
It’s
a
sensation
that,
over
the
last
year,
many
of
us
are
all
too
familiar
with

and
that,
had
Cowperthwaite’s
movie
been
more
blatantly
exploitative
of
the
Teagues’
experience
at
this
moment
in
our
history,
might
have
warranted
torches
and
pitchforks.
It
does
not.
There’s
a
surprising
comfort
in
seeing
this
portrait
of
dealing
with
death
not
as
escapism
but
as
a
brutal
fact.
This
may
indeed
have
played
differently
when
it
premiered
at
the
Toronto
Film
Festival
in
2019.
But
its
rawness
suits
the
here
and
now
all
too
well.


Source : David Fear Link

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