BY RENU MEHTA, TORONTO: The Friend, directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, was presented on the second day of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) at the prestigious Princess of Wales theatre and attended by quite a few members of the cast and crew. Based on a true story, the film is about a man (Jason Segel) who puts his own life on hold to move into the family home of his best friends (Dakota Johnson and Casey Affleck) and support them through a terminal cancer diagnosis.
The film is the story of Nicole who has been diagnosed with cancer and Matthew is struggling to keep up with her needs while trying to help raise their two daughters. Their friend Dane moves in to assist his best friends from college and the film, based on a true life story of Matthew Teague who lost his young wife at 34, takes the audience through all their trials during the ordeal. Dane’s commitment extends beyond the call of duty and comes at the cost of his own job and relationships. As Nicole’s condition worsens, the lines between friendship and family begin to blur.
The film is based on an Esquire article written by the real Matthew Teague and explores the story of friendship.
“The process in making this movie is the connections you make with the people. Its based on not how successful you are, but how much love and respect you give and receive from people. This is what I took away from the film,” says Johnson, the daughter of renowned actors Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, and who plays Nicole in the film.
“The day Nicole passed away was very seminal. I’m a bit of an isolater in life,” said Segel. “I thought about the nature of friendship and it made me think how rarely I make that phone call. After we did this film, I want to be the person who wants to be there.”
“I want to do more in terms of cancer research,” said Johnson, dressed in a stunning black gown at the theatre in downtown Toronto on September 7.
Teague spoke about his life at present and his friend who helped him through the process.
“The girls are strong and happy. Dane, in real life, is happily married and lives in New Orleans and is still my best friend,” he said.
Best known for the documentary Blackfish, director Cowperthwaite takes the twists and turns of ordinary lives and makes them into something extraordinary. With great performances, the director’s second narrative feature is a heart-wrenchingly bittersweet saga of three friends and their intertwining lives.