Our Friend brings us through the short interesting life of Nicole Teague (Dakota Johnson) in a non linear presentation of her life as a wife and mother.
Far too often films that deal with the death of a relatively young person work hard to draw emotional sadness from the audience. They’re called “tear jerkers.” In Our Friend director Gabriela Cowperthwaite gives us an impressive moving final sequence but the force of the script is on Dane Faucheux (Jason Segel) who is the loyal friend of Nicole and her husband Matt (Casey Affleck).
Segel who is best know for comedy carries this serious part effectively, warmly and convincingly. Segel’s Dane appears to be without direction in life, he holds a job that is simple and has little ambition to improve his status in life. He spends much of the script sleeping in the Teague’s spare room.
Husband Matt is a writer and spends time away from home on assignment, we see that over time as various pieces of Matt and Nicole’s life are presented as flash backs. Dane pops up regularly helping and calming the family particularly the two girls who he always has time to play with and during the dark days to cheer them up. He is the catalyst for comfort and a place to go to resolve the conflicts that arise in any family.
The focus of the story is the pending loss of Nicole to cancer, how the two girls react to the dark time before loosing their mother and how Matt her husband deals with the pending end of her life.
While Director, Cowperthwaite leads us through the final days of Nicole’s life we are not uncomfortable with what we see. There is joy and warmth in Nicole’s time and her memory.
The twist in this production becomes obvious then Matt, the writer decides to write about his life with Nicole and the two girls and what comes out is Our Friend.
It reminds us of Kathryn Forbes novel which became a film called, I Remember Mama in which the daughter who becomes a writer and even when her mother suggested writing about her father she writes about mom. Her first story is called I Remember Mama. In the introduction to the characters in her article she mentions everyone in the family, and states “but most of all I Remember Mama.”
That is what Our Friend becomes, a realization of the importance of Dane in the lives of the Teague family and what must be written and told about.
With solid performances and a presentation that is not heavy handed Our Friend is a picture of an unusual special relationship from a giving caring man who is a real friend.