January 18, 2021

SCREEN | Jason Segel Takes Care of 'Our Friend'

"Don't be afraid to give yourself to somebody."
Dakota Johnson Casey Affleck | Our Friend
Gravitas Ventures / Elevation Pictures
Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite's relationship dramedy Our Friend documents the adult friendship history of a real-life married couple, Nicole and Matt (Dakota Johnson and Casey Affleck), and their college friend Dane (Jason Segel) over many years and after one of them gets sick with terminal cancer and is about to die. It's both a heartwarming and heartbreaking story of true friendship.

Segel plays the titular friend who puts his life on hold and comes to take care of Johnson's dying Nicole just as her husband copes with her slow death while trying to raise two young daughters. Based on a real friendship and the subsequent award-winning Esquire article The Friend by journalist Matthew Teague about his life, the film is both an emotional documentation of a young family dealing with illness and a moving celebration of alternative families and partnerships.

All three central performances converge to make the earnest but winsome story of taking care of one another more than just heartfelt amidst its heartwrenching subject matter. Scripted by Brad Ingelsby, the sad film jumps back and forth in time using Nicole's cancer diagnosis as a base point of reference. How it expresses all forms of love and devotion while weaving in personal histories makes the true story so universal in its specificity. Cowperthwaite and Ingelsby commit to the deeply human interactions and small moments of reflection the characters feel.

It's a very endearing tearjerker with genuine performances from Segel, Johnson, and Affleck. Their chemistries and mix of dramatic acting styles really gel well. Set against the initially random-seeming Alabama/New Orleans location without knowing the real story, Cowperthwaite establishes a clear setting and sense of place for the emotional depth of the characters. Our Friend reflects our own friendship and relationship dynamics through its very personal nature of intimate storytelling.

Our Friend is available to stream on various digital platforms and through video on demand.

More | YVArcade / AV Club / Indiewire

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