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There are six players in the film version of social-sexual arrogance. Initially, you view them with varying degrees of interest, but by the end of the film, you dislike all of them, some more than most.
LaBute, with slightly more budget than he had for his breakthrough debut, "In the Company of Men" (ICM), uses it wisely to attract excellent role-players, then films it well, in all indoor, and slightly claustrophobic settings. He continues his theme of the cruelty of the alpha male, to both the other sex, and his own male friends.
Although each of the actors plays well (I particularly liked Aaron Eckhart, playing against type and doing a "180" from his role in ICM, as a poorly groomed, chubby and needy husband and friend) there is no question that the film is sought out by film afficianados to observe the performance of Jason Patric.
From the opening scene, Patric makes your skin crawl at the depths of his ability to hate the fairer sex. His hold over Stiller & Eckhart's characters is resonant in the fascinating steam room scene. Patric, deliberately cruel, is self-assured enough to fall into reverie about his infliction of power in a past homosexual rape. His intensity and believability make you wonder why Colin Farrell is getting all the good roles when Patric is a far more powerful actor.
In this film, LaBute does not exceed his earlier work (ICM) but puts us on warning that he is a force to be reckoned with in filmmaking.
A caution; most filmgoers will abhor this film. My recommendation is to see it for the experience, not the entertainment.
Director/writer Neil LaBute's dialogue is sharp and telling. This is a serious and courageous exploration of the dark side of human nature.
LaBute contends that egocentric people are, in many ways, very much alike. In fact, he named his characters Mary, Barry, Terri, Cherri, Gary and Jerry. Such people, he says, are not only obsessed with getting their own way, but also tend to want the same things over and over again. Since no one can give them these things, they are never satisfied.
Jerry [Ben Stiller] is a drama teacher who has an affair with his best friend's wife, Mary [Amy Brenneman]. While the affair ends practically before it begins, it causes Jerry's girlfriend, Terri [Catherine Keener], to have an affair with Cherri [Natassja Kinski]. Mary's husband, Barry [Aaron Eckhart], does a lot of soul searching, which always ends in his asking, "Is it me?" Meanwhile, the totally vain doctor, Gary [Jason Patric], stirs up this brew as much as he can, because other people's flaws keep him from dealing with his own, which are major. Their stories are both funny and sad.
LaBute directs in the style of realism, which means his performers act very much as people in real life would. There are a lot of conversational pauses and blank looks to show that no one is really comprehending what others are saying. Many viewers will find this irritating. We have been brainwashed by Hollywood's glossy, perfect characters who bond with one another by tossing off witless one-lines and cliches. Or they make a short, noble speech, and everything is cozy again. Life, of course, ain't that simple.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This movie was boring as hell! It's really just an hour and forty minutes of terrible people talking about sex and screwing around, that is really all it is, nothing more nothing... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
Saw this movie when it first came out. Jason Patric should have been nominated for a supporting actor Oscar, for his monologue about a gang rape. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Maggie W.
Love Labute's work. Well done, but it made me sad about how messed up people can be in relationships.Published on July 12, 2014 by Olive
Catherine Keener and Jason Patric are amazing here. There isn't an ounce of pretension or phony compromise in their scenes. Read morePublished on October 9, 2013 by mr. contrarian
I had to look forever for this movie. It came I scratched and still plays well even in a bluray player.Published on March 1, 2013 by Amazon Customer
That one word, "Neurosis", can serve to sum up the theme of this exploration into adult behavior; the traps we fall into, allowing ourselves to be manipulated, twisted and turned... Read morePublished on August 14, 2011 by G. Bowman Jr.
The Bottom Line:
An intense and unsparing film from Neil LaBute, who was quite a writer/director before he did The Wicker Man, Your Friends & Neighbors is a must-watch... Read more