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#TIFF19 Review: The Friend (Special Presentations)

September 9, 2019

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

The title of The Friend refers to Dane Faucheux (Jason Segel), the longtime best friend of journalist Matthew Teague (Casey Affleck) and his wife Nicole (Dakota Johnson). Dane first met Nicole when they were working together at a small theatre, and despite him initially asking her out, Dane fully accepted that she was already married, and quickly became friends with Matt as well. When Nicole was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Dane gave up his life and job to go live with her and Matt in Fairhope, Alabama, helping take care of their two young daughters Molly (Isabella Kai) and Evie (Violet McGraw) as Nicole succumbed to the illness. At first, Dane only intended to stay for a few weeks, but he ended up staying much longer, becoming a vital source of support for the family.

Based on a true story, which became the subject of an award-winning Esquire article written by the real life Matthew Teague, The Friend is a pretty solid cancer dramedy that is equal parts heartwarming and heartbreaking. The film is directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, who is best known for her acclaimed documentary Blackfish, and she has crafted another mix of tear-jerker and crowdpleaser in a similar vein to her previous inspired by a true story drama Megan Leavey.

The film uses a fractured narrative to tell its story, jumping back and forth in time to before and after Nicole’s diagnosis. While this non-linear structure is sometimes effective, it also feels a bit wonky at times, but the actors ensure that it’s always worth watching. The film is carried by a trio of moving, soulful performances from Affleck, Johnson and Segel, who delivers a standout dramatic turn.

Dakota Johnson in The Friend

Public Screenings:

Friday, September 6th – 6:00 PM at Princess of Wales

Saturday, September 7th – 2:30 PM at Princess of Wales

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