Your Friends And Neighbors

on August 21, 1998 by Cathy Thompson-Georges
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   Neil LaBute is a ferociously talented filmmaker, but judging from his work, you'd hate to sit next to the guy on a plane. Not since "Carnal Knowledge" have we seen such a resolutely bleak picture of human nature and men's hearts as in his first film, "In the Company of Men," and now in "Your Friends and Neighbors."
   "Your Friends and Neighbors" is at times an awfully funny film, and it features scathingly intelligent dialogue delivered by a talented cast. Six urbanites--three male friends, two of their female significant others and a young woman who gets involved with several of them--use ostensible ties of love and friendship to rip each other apart. Weasely academic Jerry (Ben Stiller) propositions Mary (Amy Brenneman), the ostensibly happily married wife of his old friend Barry (Aaron Eckhart). Jerry's live-in girlfriend Terri (Catherine Keener) is carrying on a fling on the side with comely art-gallery employee Cheri (Nastassja Kinski), while nasty misogynist Cary (Jason Patric) uses and abuses his was through a string of women (sending a bogus letter informing an old girlfriend that she's been exposed to AIDS is one of his milder shenanigans).
   Everyone is good here--from Stiller's hilarious self-justifications to Keener's abrasive portrayal of a woman who just wishes her lovers would shut up, in and out of the sack. And LaBute has a savagely accurate ear for dialogue. But this is a nasty bunch of people. This is the point, of course, and the results are often riveting, particularly in an extended steamroom monologue by Patric which is a quick trip to the heart of darkness. But audiences who don't like it quite this rough are likely to feel a bit used and abused themselves by the time "Your Friends and Neighbors" reaches its supremely cynical climax. Starring Jason Patric, Ben Stiller and Catherine Keener. Directed and written by Neil LaBute. Produced by Steve Golin and Jason Patric. A Gramercy release. Comedy-drama. Rated R for graphic sexual dialogue, strong sexuality and language. Running time: 97 min
Tags: Jason Patric, Ben Stiller, Catherine Keener, Directed and written by Neil LaBute, Produced by Steve Golin, Jason Patric., A Gramercy release, Comedy-drama, married, art-gallery, girlfriend, portrayal, darkness
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