Updated: Jul 5
Many of us wouldn't know that cancer was first diagnosed as early as 1775. Mistaken as a 20th century illness, due to the advances of scientific treatments, cancer of the scrotum used to be a common disease among chimney sweeps 200 years ago. It's an 'all too close to home' topic for millions of people around the world now, and film makers have expanded in the details on screen of a loved one suffering. 'OUR FRIEND' is a movie by female director Gabriela Cowperthwaite recently unveiled on Amazon Prime. Following a true story with interjected time periods, the movie reviews a families struggle, and a friend's immense support, coming to terms with the end result of a terminal illness.
This picture requires congratulations for it's disjointed narrative. Based on a book The Friend: Love is Not a Big Enough Word, there is something gripping about rewinding a human's story before they became ill. You're thrown into Nicole (Dakota Johnson) and Matthew's (Casey Affleck) lives on the eve of them addressing their two young daughters of their mothers soon to be death. It's a simple tale, one that throws you the end scene with confusion within the opening five minutes. Cowperthwaite then goes on to direct the protagonists paths carefully, giving you splashes of past memories, in a similar fashion to popular TV Drama This Is Us.
Dakota Johnson is the marmite of actresses towards audiences, often portraying timid mannerisms in powerful drama's. But she shines as the comforting mother; and giggling wife; ultimately transforming into a harrowingly mental patient in her final days. The 31 years old expresses her technique for playing multifaceted roles in this outstanding performance. Jason Segal is also known for uplifting serious storylines with his sarcastic eye brows and sweet demean; previously starring in I love you man, This is 40 and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Moving alongside this couples life, as the single godfather, the film sparkles in it's efforts to touch upon depression and loneliness towards adult males. Still a facetious subject for many, it's an honourable aspect of the director's creativity that should tackle conversations around this topic in society.
The fact this title was adapted from a well deserving book means there's already detail to work with, which is shown in the camera work and script lines surrounding the illness. You are drawn into Nicole's thin frame, her yellow pupils, her grey vomit during the night. Lines such as, "Like somebody dipped a paintbrush in cancer and flicked it around her abdomen" have been taken as true words from the doctor from the book; making it an all round chilling reflection to understand as an audience member.
OUR FRIEND (AMAZON)
Casey Affleck tends to play very similar roles in his catalogue of American titles. Always leaning towards a character dealing with grief, his emotional quick out bursts of anger makes his acting quite predictable in recent films. He tends to portray a dishevelled and drained body, fitting towards the emotion. But he comes across rather lifeless and less moving as Matthew in Our Friend. I think casting an actor who would have moulded to the role with a bit more energy in the early years of their relationship may have rounded off the journey between the two lovers.
OUR FRIEND (AMAZON PRIME)
There are some well choreographed moments of rage, revenge, and dismissal that made this a beautiful drama. It's brutally depicting the end of life, our ways of seeing the world. What we want to cling onto, and not turn into, all at the same time. All in all, the director focuses on the importance of companionship, and how friends balance their emotions on a seesaw. We watch the strongest as they support their closest allies, only for them to be lifted up in the end when all else has crashed.
Initial release: January 2021 (United Arab Emirates)
Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite