Linda Cook review: ‘Our Friend’ is remarkable true story of loss and love

Local News

His wife, Nicole, was 34 when she died from cancer.

Journalist Matthew Teague wrote an award-winning “Esquire” article about it: “The Friend: Love Is Not a Big Enough Word.” It’s about how their daughters and Teague managed, how Nicole managed, and how their friend Dane helped them all.

The movie “Our Friend” is based on this compelling true story that moves back and forth in time from pre-diagnosis to post-diagnosis.

Casey Affleck is Matt Teague, Dakota Johnson is Nicole and Jason Segel is Dane, a not-quite-grounded, amiable fellow who leaves his life behind in New Orleans to help his friends through change, caretaking and, ultimately, grief.

Sometimes, it’s friendship, and not family, who matter the most, whether it’s geographic or other situations.

Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite and screenwriter Brad Ingelsby never allow the viewer to shed a tear without transitioning to laughter … and vice versa. The family’s life never becomes melodramatic, which is not easy to achieve with a story like this.

Betrayal, anger, resentment and hurt feelings are part of the story, while Nicole tries to wring as much as she can out of her fading life and plan for her daughter simultaneously.

The story is told through many little moments: Doctor visits, story times, ordinary conversations. This is just the cast to deliver them. The performances are exquisite, and that includes the marvelous Cherry Jones as the hospice worker who appears toward the end of the movie.

The COVID-19 pandemic and political strife has pushed us apart in so many ways during the last years. This movie, about the important of what brings us together, couldn’t be more timely.

4 out of 4 stars

Running time: Two hours and four minutes.

Rated: R, for foul language and adult themes.

At Cinemark, Davenport; Palms 10, Muscatine; and streaming on Fandango Now, Vudu and prime video.

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