Review: Just Friends

Just Friends screenshot

Original title: Gewoon vrienden
Year: 2018 | Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Based on the generic, non-licensed music (some of which was attempted to be passed off as Sufjan Stevens and Bon Iver, which is completely and utterly ridiculous) and quality of some the shots (especially the flashbacks), I at first assumed that Just Friends was a super low-budget production that was maybe made independently and submitted to some festivals by some first-time filmmaker who was chasing their dreams, and I felt kinda bad about not liking it very much. But then I did some research, and discovered that this film was actually financed by and aired on a Dutch television network, so I feel a little bit better about it now.

And the thing is, I could forgive those amateurish elements if the script wasn’t so bad, but it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a film that relies so heavily on backstory that is not established during the main story. None of the characters have any real motivation for their actions, so decisions come out of the blue and appear to make absolutely no sense at all. There’s no foundation for any of conflict throughout the film, which makes it very hard to care about anything that happens to these characters. It’s basically just a mess.

I loved the character of the grandmother, though. Dutch singer Jenny Arean is by far the best actor in the film, and the character is treated with such care and tenderness that it would not surprise me if she’s based on the writer’s own grandma. She certainly reminded me of my own, who, despite her lifelong religiousness, opened her home and her heart to my fiancée from day one and loved him like her own grandson until the day she died.

But I digress. Apart from that, Just Friends is simply not a very good film, I’m afraid.

Language: Dutch
Genre: Romance, Drama, Comedy
Runtime: 1 hr. 20 min.
Rating: Not Rated

Director: Annemarie van de Mond
Starring: Majd Mardo, Josha Stradowski, Jenny Arean, Tanja Jess, Sjoerd Dragtsma

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