‘Our Friend’ review: A moving, subtle testament to kindness

‘Our Friend’ review: A moving, subtle testament to kindness

Running
time:
124
minutes.
Rated
R
(language.)
In
select
theater
and
on-demand
Jan.
22.

And
now
for
your
January
ugly
cry.

The
premise
of
“Our
Friend,”
at
first,
sounds
a
bit
like
the
2006
Owen
Wilson
clunker
“You,
Me
and
Dupree.”
An
adult
male
pal
spends
all
his
time
with
a
happily
married
couple.
Is
he
going
to
host
a
kegger
when
they
go
out
to
dinner?
Will
there
be
a
dumb
gag
with
a
blowup
mattress?

No,
thank
God.
Unlike
Wilson’s
loser
pothead,
the
title
companion
of
this
weepy
flick
is
a
hero.

An
ideally
cast
Jason
Segel
plays
Dane,
a
wallflower
who
takes
it
upon
himself
to
help
out
his
married
friends
when
one
of
them
is
diagnosed
with
cancer.
Nicole
(Dakota
Johnson)
is
an
enfeebled
mother
of
two
young
girls,
and
a
musical
theater
actress.
Her
husband,
Matt
(Casey
Affleck),
is
a
temperamental
newspaper
journalist.

The
whole
film,
in
fact,
is
based
on
writer
Matthew
Teague’s
actual
yearlong
experience

he
chronicled
for
Esquire

in
2015,
about
his
friend
coming
to
help
out
after
his
wife
got
sick.

That
deeply
personal
connection
is
evident.

Non-linear,
the
story
jumps
back
and
forth
through
time,
so
in
one
scene
we
witness
Nicole
at
her
vibrant,
bubbly
best
hosting
a
dinner
party
and,
in
the
next,
see
disease
ravaging
her
young,
loving,
artistic
mind
and
body.

Dakota Johnson stars in "Our Friend."
Dakota
Johnson
stars
in
“Our
Friend.”

Courtesy
Everett
Collection

Now
and
then,
the
seeming
randomness
of
the
timeline
halts
the
momentum
and,
therefore,
our
investment.
The
zigzagging
makes
more
sense,
however,
later
in
director
Gabriela
Cowperthwaite’s
film
when
the
brutal
contrast
gains
poignancy

especially
after
we
learn
about
a
rift
that
nearly
crumbled,
but
ultimately
strengthened,
the
marriage.

Johnson’s
last
movie,
“The
High
Note,”
was
all
right,
but
it
was
such
a
relief
to
see
her
relinquish
her
“Fifty
Shades
of
Grey”
paddle
and
other
unseemly
accoutrements
for
something
non-stupid.
She
is
an
actress
worthy
of
real
challenges,
and
her
uncompromising
portrayal
here
proves
that.
Affleck,
who
can
be
a
lot
on-screen,
is
finest
when
he’s
trying
to
forge
a
bond
with
his
devastated
little
girls.

Isabella Kai Rice, Jason Segel and Violet McGraw appear in a scene from "Our Friend."
Isabella
Kai
Rice,
Jason
Segel
and
Violet
McGraw
appear
in
a
scene
from
“Our
Friend.”

Courtesy
Everett
Collection

Some
will
accuse
“Our
Friend”
of
being
sentimental,
and
it
is,
but
not
in
an
“Oh
no!
The
golden
retriever
was
kidnapped!”
way.
It’s
subtle.
The
wisdom
of
Brad
Ingelsby’s
script
is
that
Dane’s
assistance
is
unnoticeable
until
very
late
in
the
movie.
His
acts
of
kindness
sneak
up
on
you.

Whether
he
is
taking
the
couple’s
daughters
for
ice
cream
or
breaking
up
a
fight,
this
is
not
the
usual
“Good
Samaritan”
shtick.
And
the
film
is
more
moving
for
it.

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