Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s ‘Our Friend’ is a cancer movie weepie – destined to wring out tears in you. We’ve seen this story before, we’ve seen this movie before, but for me, because I am sometimes a masochist, I still watch, hoping for something new.
I am happy to report that the film got some tears out of me (but then again maybe that’s from my pandemic low-key depression) even though the story was familiar – I mean we all know how this will end – the main ace for the film here is the good acting by the principals. Dakota Johnson is really a good actress, and she shines through the scattershot script here, giving dignity to the dying Nicole, who gets diagnosed with cancer. Casey Affleck also gives complex to a cardboard character, but it is Jason Segal who is the top here – funny and vulnerable as the selfless friend who glues the family together.
There are some holes in the story, and for what it is I felt the film was a little bloated . but this film is exactly what you need if you want to release some sadness out of you.
Confession: I have not read “Infinte Jest,” by David Foster Wallace. I know I bought the book – all 1,079 pages of it – when it first came out, and I started reading it, but could never get into it. I believe that a lot of times our mood and where we are in our lives can shape how we appreciate art, so perhaps as a person I wasn’t ready yet to fully understand Wallace’s masterpiece. I really should start re-reading it soon. But anyway, I say this as a preface before writing about “The End Of Our Tour,” which is a movie that briefly touches upon Wallace, who passed away in 2008.
Jesse Eisenberg plays David Lipsky a writer who gets assigned by Rolling Stones Magazine to profile David Foster Wallace, shortly after Infinite Jest got all its rave reviews. The movie is based on Lipsky’s book, “Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself,” which was partly about Lipsky’s week and a half with Wallace as he ended his book tour in 1996. The movie is a two-character piece, and we get to see these two writers interact with each other, and how each carefully avoids showing each other their true colors. In the process, they revealed more of themselves to each other. It’s a great gem of a movie, with good performances from both Eisenberg and Jason Segel (who plays Wallace) These are both subtle performances, each one mindful of character’s tics and suspicions. The fact that we know that Wallace eventually succumbs to suicide makes it poignant -will we get a clue to what is inside his mind by going inside Lipsky’s mind?I don’t know if we ever get an answer to that question, or do we? That is part of the magic of this movie.
(For the record, Lipsky’s family has disowned both the book and the movie)