For around two years, Nicole had cancer, and during that time, she and her husband’s best friend from college, Dane, came in and helped with their two girls. Mind you, sometimes Nicole’s husband Matt didn’t like Dane. But what do you expect when a man who is your best friend, but had a crush on your wife in the past, acts as a surrogate parent at times? Never mind, has an individual bond with your wife that doesn’t include you? Which isn’t to say, as time went on, there was a sense of jealousy or a throuple. More so an understanding between all parties.
One in which Matt was forced to admit he needed help, Dane needed someone to need him and give his life purpose, and as for Nicole? What she needed from that threesome was the ability to not be okay and put on a performance as if everything was. Thus leading things sometimes running smoothly, other times not, and ultimately all parties getting what they needed, even if they didn’t always get what they wanted.
Things To Note | Question(s) Left Unanswered
Reason(s) for Film Rating: Cursing, but nothing over the top.
Jump Scares/ Laughs/ Tear-Jerking Moments: It’s a film about a mother dying of cancer, expect moments to make you cry throughout.
When we meet Nicole, she is in musical theater, and while just appreciating her success at the local level, Nicole is doing well and gets praise. However, after developing a deadly cancer, her friends, her beloved neighbors, begin to, one by one, move on or avoid Nicole. Leaving her feeling increasingly isolated, especially as Matt and Dane try to compensate for what she can no longer do as a friend, a host of parties, and as a person.
Originally, Matt was a writer for a small paper who felt underwhelmed at his job and always waiting for that call up to the big time. He got it in the form of the Times of Atlanta, and from there, his career skyrocketed as he would travel internationally to write news stories. However, between Nicole feeling like a single mother and later getting sick, Matt slowed down his career to take care of her.
Since college Dane has been Nicole and Matt’s best friend, though there were some minor issues between Matt and Dane due to Dane asking Nicole out in the past. However, that beef was squashed, and ever since, Dane has been there. Which, for some, is a running joke because Dane didn’t excel in life like others. However, his loyalty and love always made it so that he was fiercely defending and always extended an invitation despite his shortcomings.
For a notable amount of time, it seemed Jason Segel was a consistent presence in film. But then he went indie or down a more serious path, and then you’d had to seek him out to find him. However, in Our Friend, if you haven’t seen Segel in anything in a while, you’ll feel like nothing has changed. He is still that lovable giant with a big heart who is sensitive. Someone you’d want as your friend, wanna date, if you’re into men, and just have around because he is chill, funny, and adorable.
Now, focusing on Dane and less on Segel, while you could see and understand why Matt is uncomfortable with Dane’s presence at times, you can also see why he appreciates him. When Matt was away, since Dane didn’t seem close to his family and had issues maintaining relationships, he made Matt’s family his own. He helped take care of the girls, Nicole, when she was sick and gave you the kind of best friend some may believe only exists on sitcoms.
And even though Dane does have flaws, you can see and understand why both Matt and Nicole excuse them when in a good mood. Because each flaw comes as a blemish, a mole, compared to this person who has made themselves indispensable. Then, when it comes to you as a viewer, you may love Dane mainly due to his character, no matter the time jump, still having an arc that feels like it is moving forward rather than jumping around.
On The Fence
Too Much Time Jumping
Aside from Dane, there is also the relationship between Dakota Johnson’s character and Casey Affleck’s that draws you in. But one of the problems of getting into their marriage is that there is an excessive amount of time jumps. Take note, not all going forward, but back and forth anywhere from 1 to almost 10 years. In the first 45 minutes alone, there are approximately 6-time jumps, and while you never lost what the overall story is about, it does affect the performances and you getting into Nicole and Matt’s relationship.
For whether it is Nicole dealing with Matt being gone for work, and feeling like a single parent, Matt struggling to connect with his oldest daughter, and issues that threatened them staying together, all the jumps take you out of the moment. This is perhaps why we like Dane so much, since, as a character, he is made to be consistent throughout the whole film. His life is mainly dedicated to Nicole and Matt’s family, so he is always there, and no matter what period we jump to, not a lot changes with him or needs to be explained.
Meanwhile, Nicole’s friends no longer being able to deal with her cancer feels rushed, since it feels dedicated to one or two segments, then no longer touched on. Mind you, this is after establishing she is rather popular in their town. Add onto that, we don’t really get to see or understand the end of Nicole’s theater career as much as just knowing it existed one day and was over the next.
Making it so, while you get the time jumps are necessary to fill in certain information, because they feel so random and don’t necessarily allow the story to remain coherent, it doesn’t add value to the overall narrative.
While Our Friend has an overall beautiful story, the time jumps cut things up in such a way that it doesn’t really allow any moment or feeling to breathe and be developed. For next thing you know, we’re jumping back to one of the good times or focusing just on Matt or Nicole as individuals. And while Dane does create some form of consistency, part of the reason he can be seen as consistent is that Dane doesn’t have much of a life outside of Nicole and Matt’s family. His character does go through things, but it isn’t about him, so he doesn’t necessarily develop.
Hence the mixed label. Our Friend, as a whole, has a wonderful story and characters you want to invest in. However, the way it jumps from past to present, far too frequently, creates a disjointed narrative that only becomes good once you can put all the pieces together.
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Nicole eventually dies of cancer, thus making Matt a widow with two kids. And while Dane has helped throughout the time Nicole was alive, after her funeral, he returns to New Orleans, and in the epilogue, we’re told he got married and remained close to Matt.
Now, as for how Matt handled having two pre-teen girls and raising them on his own? That isn’t explained.
Does Our Friend Have Prequel/ Sequel Potential?
You could submit how Matt and Nicole met could be delved into, as well as Dane’s life after leaving Matt and the girls to focus on his own life.
Segel's Charm - 83%
Too Much Time Jumping - 73%
Our Friend, as a whole, has a wonderful story and characters you want to invest in. However, the way it jumps from past to present, far too frequently, creates a disjointed narrative that only becomes good once you can put all the pieces together.