Thursday, January 21, 2021

One fine film 'Friend' movingly shows appropriate need to help indeed

Segel helps Johnson persevere in the sad, but uplifting "Friend."
It is said that a pal in need is a pal indeed. Rarely, though, does such simple conventional wisdom prove itself as frequently as it does in "Our Friend," a nicely presented offering which stars the superb trio of Jason Segel, Dakota Johnson and Casey Affleck. (The film from director Gabriela Cowperthwaite opens Friday in a handful of northeast Ohio theaters and "On Demand" just about everywhere.)

The story swirls around Johnson as Nicole Teague, herself someone called "best friend" by at least eight different women. Obviously, she's a sweetheart, not to mention the mostly supportive wife of husband/writer Matt (Affleck) and ultra-loving mother to a pair of darling daughters (Isabella Kai and Violet McGraw). 

Very early on, aspiring actress Nicole gets asked out by nice-guy Dane (Segel), the lighting director for her college theater. Because she's already dating the serious Matt, she turns him down, but lifetime friendships do take shape -- twice -- since Dane quickly forms a close bond with Nick as well. 

Oh, yeah. A tricky narrative also lets us learn quickly about Nicole's terminal illness, then details Dane's unwavering devotion to the couple and their kids through proverbial thick and thin. Enough said, except that most is true and undeniably more poignant than weepy in the secure hands of Cowperthwaite and screenwriter Brad Ingelsby ("The Way Back" and his ever-underappreciated "American Woman").

Rated "R" by MPAA: for language; 2:05; $ $ $ and 1/2 out of $5 

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