Your Friends and Neigbors

Dir. Neil LaBute, 1998
A depressing bit of cynicism from one of America’s main Miserablists
(Todd Solondz being the other), my friend Olivia lent me this one to check out (all she would say at first was “Well, Catherine Keener kisses Nastassja Kinski in it, so watch it.”). In the Company of Men left me cold, despite the huzzahs from critics (as if feeling “bad” after a film is aesthetically better than feeling “good”). YFAN takes six characters with varying degrees of unlikability, and watches them fuck each other, then fuck each other over, with nothing decent in any of them to grab a hold of or of which to mourn the passing. If you can get past the foul language and the mood, which surprised middle America, the characters aren’t even written well. Ben Stiller’s “intellectual” is of course too “wordy” and “thinks too much;” Keener’s bisexual character is icy and unpleasant. And Jason Patric might as well have “asshole” tattooed on his forehead (of course he tapes himself talking dirty during sex; of course he calls women cunts; of course he goes off in rages; of course his “best fuck” was anally raping a boy in high school, etc. etc.) And to have Amy Brenneman’s character to end up with Patric in the end is completely forced, a writer’s conceit.

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