During a time when connection feels so much harder, Our Friend reminds us to just FaceTime our friends already.
Our Friend, starring Dakota Johnson, Casey Affleck, and Jason Segel, follows wife and mother, Nicole Teague (Johnson), her husband Matt (Affleck), and their two daughters. After almost 13 years of marriage, Nicole is diagnosed with terminal cancer and is left to navigate the remainder of her life with her husband and kids.
However, life gets a little easier, and complicated, when their friend Dane (Segel) moves in to help the family in whatever way he can.
Our Friend Reminds Us That The Mundane Is Significant
Set primarily in Fairhope, Alabama, Our Friend is based on a true story. In fact, the entire film is based on an article written by the real Matt Teague that Esquire published in 2015.
During the article, Teague writes, “We don’t tell each other the truth about dying, as a people. Not real dying. Real dying, regular and mundane dying, is so hard and so ugly that it becomes the worst thing of all: It’s grotesque.”
Throughout the film, Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite depicts the regular moments not just in death but in everyday life. She never sugarcoats pain, or over emphasizes good deeds, or glorifies loving moments. Nothing about the film is grand.
While Nicole and Matt love each other, they also hurt each other. While Dane is a devoted and lighthearted friend, he’s also a mess when it comes to his personal life and career. The kids are hurting and difficult sometimes. As friends, the group is deeply supportive yet critical and unkind at times. The love isn’t over the top, the loss isn’t climactic, and even the final scene leaves us asking “Is that it?”
But the question is refreshing. I think we often spend our lives waiting for grandiose signs to remind us that we’re living when, in fact, it’s during the “regular and mundane” moments that true connection is formed.
Our Friend shows that no, love and connection may not always be able to change the circumstances of our lives but it can certainly help us through them.
This Movie Offers Connection When We Need It Most
Despite how much we may hope it to be, our growth, our love, our stories aren’t linear. We often take three steps forward and two sideways. We can love someone fiercely and then hate them passionately all in one year. The scenes of Our Friend are revealed to us in similar ways.
The narrative moves between present and past and displays timestamps that note how many years before or since Nicole’s diagnosis the scene takes place. Each memory shows us how the characters have grown and regressed, loved and betrayed, and diverged to where they are now.
I think the film would be powerful at any time. However, the message seems to hit harder now during a time where connection feels so distant. It’s raw and feels so real. It’s a movie that, really, just offers us two hours of regular, mundane moments.
But it expects us to understand that underneath every regular moment, there’s an emotional tidal wave of human experience. Just like in life, nothing in Our Friend is only good or bad, everything is all of it simultaneously – which both hurts and makes it more beautiful.
Jake Owen Makes His Acting Debut In The Movie
After years as a country music star, Jake Owen decided he was up for the next “challenge” in his career. During an interview with The Bobby Bones Show, Owen shared how he became involved with Our Friend. Owen said that he got the part as Matt and Nicole’s college friend, Aaron, after his agent asked him if he’d ever want to try acting.
“I’m always up for a challenge, something I’ve never done,” said Owen. So, he enthusiastically accepted the role. However, after booking the film, his agent suggested that Owen take acting lessons. Unfortunately, Owen declined to do so and said that he quickly regretted his decision during his first scene with Casey Affleck.
“I was really nervous. And I was really really insecure about it,” says Owen. “But I didn’t want anyone to know. My manager told me before, ‘You should probably take some acting lessons.’ But I thought, ‘I don’t need to take acting lessons.’ Then my first day, my first scene was with Casey Affleck…and they don’t tell you what to do. They assume you know what you’re doing. And I had no idea what I was doing,” said Owen laughing.
Owen shared a clip of the scene that he’s in on his Instagram. Along with the clip, Owen writes “Wanted to share a little clip of a film I was a part of…I’ve never been in a ‘movie’ before so I won’t lie.. sitting down in front of Dakota Johnson, Jason Segel, and Casey Affleck and acting like I knew what I was doing, was a bit of a challenge. I’ve always loved a good challenge.”