Matthew Teague (played by Casey Affleck) is a journalist. In 2012, his wife, Nicole (Dakota Johnson) was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Stage IV. She is doomed. Their friend Dane (Jason Segel) moved in with them in 2013 to help them until death. “My friend” is this true story.
Adapted from the article “The Friend: Love Is Not a Big Enough Word”, published in “Esquire” in 2015, “My friend” mixes memories of the history couple and fight against the disease, a form adopted by the scenario writer Brad Ingelsby (“In the heart of the blaze”) with the accord of Matthew Teague. “Of all that I have written, this is the article that seemed to touch and help the most people. It is also something that I wanted to see continue, stay alive, ”said the journalist and executive producer during an interview with the QMI Agency.
“I wanted it to stay alive, whatever the shape. Through a radio show, a podcast. I didn’t care, as long as it was alive. When the article was published there was a surge of interest from Hollywood producers, but I wasn’t ready. I waited about a year before recalling Scott Free, Ridley Scott’s box, and asked them to get involved in the project. “
Matthew Teague therefore worked on the screenplay – but did not collaborate at all on the choice of actors – with Brad Ingelsby in order to include details that do not appear in the text, in particular on the couple’s life before the cancer diagnosis. by Nicole. The article also includes extremely descriptive sentences about the physical ailments from which Nicole suffered, elements which do not appear in the feature film.
“Written sentences, the raw ones, are the least important. This is not what I had to say. The physical indignity of cancer is abominable, but the emotional and psychological impact has been far worse to face. When it came time to write the script, I remembered that it was an entirely different medium. We cannot disgust the spectators because otherwise they will not hear what we have to say. ”
“So we decided not to highlight the physical aspect, but to emphasize the elements that could generate an emotional reaction from the public. The screenplay was written without any actor in mind. I wanted to insert backtracking in order to lighten the point. There are important scenes in the film. The one in which my character tells his daughters that cancer is terminal is one of the key moments in my life, so it’s a pivotal moment in the film. In general, I would say we have stayed relatively true to the truth. ”
While his wife’s cancer is obviously the main subject, Matthew Teague’s goal, both in the article and in the feature film, is to highlight the indispensable role played by his friend Dane, “without whom I couldn’t have done it. ”
The reporter also emphasized the role of the palliative care nurse, “unfortunately arrived too late in our lives, at a point where Dane and I were exhausted in the literal sense of the word. We were emptied. She saved us by taking everything in hand. And I’m glad that [Nicole ait pu mourir] at home.”
The story of friendship and cancer in the movie “Our Friend” is unfortunately too generic to be effective.
Matthew (Casey Affleck) and Nicole (Dakota Johnson) are married with two children. When Nicole has metastasized ovarian cancer, their best friend Dane (Jason Segel who wears the feature) comes to live with them to help them. Here is, in two sentences, the summary of this feature film taken from an article written by journalist Matthew Teague in the magazine “Esquire” after the death of his wife.
The story being true, that should make it more moving than a fiction. Unfortunately, it is not the case. While the journalist’s text takes the guts (it can still be found on the monthly website under the title “The Friend: Love Is Not a Big Enough Word”), the film is too messy to be effective.
Constantly combining flashbacks (the couple’s story) and the present (cancer), “Our friend” loses its intensity. While they sometimes explain certain things (the duration of the couple’s friendship with Dane, in particular), the returns do not serve the story and too often give the impression of being nothing but filler.
Certain moments of Nicole’s cancer are glaring with truth, and moviegoers who have experienced such a situation will recognize them easily. The announcement of the imminent death of their mother to the two little girls, the exodus of friends, the heaviness of medical treatment, the conflicts between Matthew and Nicole, among others, are written by screenwriter Brad Ingelsby, directed by the director Gabriela Cowperthwaite (who delivered us the right “Megan Leavey”) and played by the actors with great finesse. Unfortunately, that is not enough to make the 124 minutes of this production unforgettable.
It lacks a clear message, a position, a social commentary and above all, a palpable emotion that we find in the excellent “My Life” (1993 film with Michael Keaton and Nicole Kidman). Because we feel Brad Ingelsby’s will to apply a recipe in order to artificially generate a sadness that we therefore do not feel.
In front of “Our friend”, no need to hold back tears, no need to take out the handkerchiefs. We unfortunately remain unmoved by this story which would have deserved better treatment.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
“Our friend” is available on VOD via illico and other digital platforms.