TIFF is in full effect, with plenty of exciting projects making their debut during the 2019 international festival. The fest is an opportunity to debut plenty of Oscar hopeful projects, hoping to make an impact during the upcoming Awards Season. Gabriela Cowperthwaite's The Friend might be one of those projects, as it boasts some killer performances by Jason Segel, Fifty Shades of Grey's Dakota Johnson, and Oscar winner Casey Affleck. It's an overall solid film, but one that you should probably bring tissues to when it has its full theatrical release.
The Friend's packs an emotional gut punch from its very first scene, mostly due to the upcoming film's relatable and emotional subject matter. The movie follows Dakota Johnson's Nicole Teague, a real-life victim of cancer and her journey before and following the diagnosis. It's a story about family, love, and loss, and one that almost no moviegoers will be excluded from. And for that reason (in addition to the killer performances) The Friend is one of the most gut-wrenching movies to debut this year.
The upcoming drama is based off a true story, and an award-winning Esquire also titled The Friend. On paper, the movie focuses on the relationship between Dakota Johnson's character Nicole and her husband Matt, played by Casey Affleck. We follow the couple through the good times and the bad, although their valleys get even deeper once Nicole is given a tragic cancer diagnosis, and their world is flipped upside down.
But The Friend is titled after the close companion that Matt and Nicole have in their shared best friend Dane Faucheux (the always delightful Jason Segel). Despite not being part of the couple that drives the movie's action forward, the drama is also very much focused on the experience of Dane, and how much he was willing to sacrifice for his friends in their time of need.
The subject matter of The Friend is enough to get moviegoers emotional, given the countless amount of people that cancer has personally touched. And even if moviegoers don't have a loved one who has struggled with a diagnosis, the themes of The Friend are enough to get cinephiles misty-eyed. The story is about family (both chosen and blood), loss, and forgiveness. And in that way, the movie is a universal experience that audiences should pack tissues for.
Gabriela Cowperthwaite establishes a distinguishable tone, with a framing device that keeps the The Friend from being overly maudlin and/or repetitive. The director takes special care with every film of the drama, helping to move the story forward purposefully and specifically. The film's emotional score also helps to move the story forward, and keep the heavy drama buoyed and moving during its 124 minute runtime.
The Friend doesn't currently have a release date, but it's expected to hit theaters before the end of 2019. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.