8.5/10 Cancer dramas are a dime a dozen these days and have been around for decades but “Our Friend” sets itself above and beyond your average, melodramatic weep fest. Something I didn’t know about this film going in was that this is based on a true story, automatically making it more emotionally impactful than your standard, fictional cancer drama. While watching I mentally noted how real and authentic all of the relationships in the film felt and part of that was because they are based upon real, authentic friendships in combination with Brad Ingelsby’s pitch perfect script. Massive credit has to also be given to our three leading actors; Casey Affleck, Dakota Johnson and Jason Segel, whose performances are anchored in passion and maturity. Their portrayals of friendship, marriage, parenthood, cancer, love and loss all ring true. Cancer can often get sugar coated in movies as a tragic yet graceful fading away, as opposed to the uglier side of how cancer really is. Erratic mood swings involving anger, hatred and confusion, severe memory loss and the inability to do basic, everyday tasks add up to a devastating and exhausting way to go out but this film wisely doesn’t shy away from any of it. We see the seeds of friendship formed early on and the highs that come from it, onto the low points of friendship and marriage, followed by the preparation for the reality of dying in your mid 30s and leaving two children behind. If it wasn’t obvious enough already, this is a tear jerker that will tug on your heart strings from start to finish. One of the most pleasant surprises was Segel’s character arc. In hindsight, the title is named after him so it shouldn’t have surprised me but I thought this was just Johnson’s cancer story. Instead, it is so much more and Segel plays a man whose struggle is familiar to many millennials today. His life is at a standstill, stuck in a job that pays the bills but that he doesn’t enjoy, no romantic prospects panning out, etc. In caring for his dying friend, he is given purpose and it’s something he is surprisingly great at doing, most likely due to having a big heart deep down. The emotional aspects are extremely strong in the film and I also enjoyed director Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s decision to include some time jumps in the film. Despite being two hours long, the pacing works well since not a moment of running time is wasted or bloated. Each scene acts to inform the audience and/or develop characters. If I had to nitpick tiny problems, which in no way hurt the overall product I would probably point out that the score is subtle but forgettable and the film doesn’t have a lot of replayability, unless you enjoy getting sad often. Regardless of any minor hiccups, this is a fantastic film that will resonate with a much wider audience than you might think. Everyone involved is bringing their A game and I suggest, as I did, that you find y(our) friend and have them watch this terrific piece of film making with you.

#TheFiveYearAssuagement / #FiftyShadesOfDecay / #FightOfMyLife / #ShesOutOfYourTeague / #HowIOffsetYourMother / #ThisIsTheFriend

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