Our Friend (directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite) is based off of the true story of the Teague family, Matt (Casey Affleck) and Nicole (Dakota Johnson) and their two young daughters. Their lives turn upside down when Nicole is diagnosed with terminal cancer. With the couple being overloaded by doctors, hospital visits, chemo, and raising two young kids, Nicole’s long-time friend Dane (Jason Segel) drops everything to come and help out her and Matt. As the story unfolds, we learn just how much of an impact Dane’s decisions prove to be in inspiring hope and providing stability for the entire family.
I will say this once, twice, and probably a thousand times more – you need to see this movie. Quite simply, it is the most heartbreaking and moving film I have seen so far this year. I know we’re only two weeks in, but I bet it will stay at the top of my list for a while because this movie absolutely destroyed me. Within the first 4 minutes, I was already crying. The opening is visually beautiful, and immediately throws you into a situation that I cannot even begin to comprehend how painful it would feel to be in. Then, right when you feel you’re going to break down, the story moves along into another time. One of the reasons that Our Friend is so impactful is because from the beginning up until about the last 20 minutes it doesn’t give you time to find any emotional balance. You’re shown devastating conversations and scenarios, and at the drop of a hat you’re suddenly in the midst of reliving a happy and peaceful moment. It truly does give you the feeling of being on a rollercoaster – one minute you’re free-falling and emotions are high, and the next you’re rushed into that comforting hold of gravity engulfing you in it’s safety. This feeling goes on for 2 hours. To say I was emotionally drained would be an understatement.
Some of you may know me, and for those of you who do, you know that I personally suffered a terrible loss this year. Unfortunately, I had to say goodbye to my beautiful and amazingly courageous mother this past October due to her health. The reason I bring this up is because I will be the first to admit that I was in an emotional place to begin with when I started this movie. I knew full well what I was getting myself into, but I was never fully prepared for what I was going to see and how much I would relate to it. Something that has always struck a chord with me in film is often the downplaying of health issues, or the glamourizing of having others take care of you at your worst (A Walk to Remember, I’m looking at you). Our Friend takes a horrible situation and makes it into beautiful art, but it doesn’t hide the truth from you. It shows how daunting loss is and what the repercussions can be of losing time with the ones you love. Yet, through all of this, it also reminds you of how important it is to live with love in your heart. It shows how important it is to care for those around you, and support each other in the hardest times. You may never know the impact you have on the people around you. The simplest of things or the biggest sacrifices can all create this safety net for somebody who is struggling. I am personally thankful for the family and friends in my life this past year because who knows where I would have been without them, and this movie is a perfect example of how love can get us through just about anything with the right people by our side. I’m mortified by how cheesy that sounds, but honestly… it’s true.
Performance wise, I don’t have a negative thing to say about this cast. From start to finish, they nailed it. I was hesitant on Johnson before starting it because as much as I think she’s talented, I do think that portraying somebody who is in that frail of a state is a hard task to live up to. She nailed it impeccably. Affleck is one of those actors who I’m fairly impartial about, but he did a great job of somehow making you hate him and love him all at the same time. He had his moments where I wanted to get up and punch my screen, and then in the next your heart is just breaking for him. That being said, the real unsung hero through all of it – Jason Segel. The man knows comedy like the back of his hand, and I would never deny that. I was so thoroughly impressed with him in this movie because I haven’t seen him tackle anything like it before. He did such a great job at really bringing the heartfelt role of Dane to life – he’s like that cool uncle who just knows exactly what you need at every moment. If there was one thing that I could wish for every person in the world (aside from basic human rights and respect…. but that’s a topic for another day), it’s that they all have at least one person in their life like Dane. I can only hope that I am that person for somebody.
There’s a lot of little things that I love about this movie, but most of them contain spoilers and I don’t want to have to limit who can read this. I want this to be a way to convince more people to see it. It deserves all the credit it’s gotten so far and then some. If you happen to watch it, and want to talk about it, I’m pretty sure I could rant on for hours about how great it was so feel free to reach out or send us a message. The overall consensus is that there is no denying this is a must-see. If I could send you all Kleenex and a big blanket to cuddle in preparation, I would. You’ll need it.