TIFF review: The Friend

Gabriela Cowperthwaite's cloying drama is a mechanical, sentimental film about people suffering so they can learn life is precious

THE FRIEND SPEC D: Gabriela Cowperthwaite. U.S. 124 min. Sep 7, 2:30 pm, Princess of Wales. Rating: NN

There are a lot of movies about people dying at TIFF this year, and though The Friend isn’t the worst of them it might be the most calculated.

An adaptation of Matthew Teague’s Esquire article about the death of his wife Nicole, which Teague weathered with the support of his good friend Dane, it’s a mechanical, sentimental collection of people suffering so they can all learn that life is precious. 

All three leads are employed for their personae rather than their range. Casey Affleck does his standard shifty-surly thing as Teague Jason Segel is an open-hearted goof with a secret streak of sadness as Dane and Dakota Johnson is a radiant life force as Nicole.

And over two time-scrambled hours, Cowperthwaite (Megan Leavey) and screenwriter Brad Ingelsby (Out Of The Furnace) pull every string and mash every button to get your tear ducts flowing, without ever once bringing these people clearly into focus. 

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