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.