Your Friends & Neighbors (1998) Poster

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A great film about really bad people.
ellisonharlan22 September 2005
This is basically the filmed dissatisfaction of upper-class yuppie life. These are people who have everything but seem to live in a swamp of self loathing and hateful arrogance and selfishness. Their tart, affective interplay is like watching a game of mumbletypeg, but with words. These are the kind of people you would not want to live next door to, but these are the people who usually seem to win in our society, sad as that is to ponder.

Jason Patric plays the single most evil person in movie history. His 'shower scene' is sick, twisted, but oddly humorous. You hate yourself for laughing, which is the point. In that way you understand how these people are born. They are us.

This is arrogant mall culture, the kind of American decadence the Soviets warned us about. At least they were right about that.

The film is about how creeps become dissatisfied at their own creepiness. Great dialog, the ending makes complete, yet sad, sense. Our world is mad, and we need to change it, before it eats us whole.
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7/10
With the friends like Mary, Barry, Terri, Cheri, Cary and Jerry
Galina13 June 2006
"Your Friends and Neighbors" (1998) is the second film by director/writer Neil LaBute and it tells the story of three couples and their complicated friendships and relationships. I've seen it more than once during the last couple of days - and I found it incredibly clever written, well acted (especially by Jason Patric and Catherine Keener - their only scene together was the second best in the movie - so dynamic and tight) and skillfully directed. LaBute certainly has a very unique sense of humor and he knows well the history of cinema. To give all characters the names that rhyme - Mary, Barry, Terri, Cheri, Cary and Jerry - was a clever idea - the characters are interchangeable in their relationships and it does not matter really, who is with whom - Mary with Barry or with Cary or Jerry or Barry with Barry, and Cheri with Terri or Jerry? The important thing is that they are selfish and often unpleasant and despicable people who are not happy with themselves and can't make happy their spouses or partners. Another interesting trick - the repeating scene in the Art gallery that starts with exactly the same words for each character but leads to different developments. I mentioned that LaBute knows his movies. Have you noticed the poster from Goddard's Le Mépris, (1963) aka "Contempt" with Brigitte Bardot? "Contempt" features one of the most fascinating and longest scenes of a breakup ever filmed. The breakup scene between Terri (Catherine Keener) and Jerry (Ben Stiller) started like in "Contempt" but it only lasted a few minutes and it was a good scene. Actually, I loved all scenes with Catherine Keener and if I have to choose one character that I liked, it would be Terry. Seems that Charlie Kaufman might have seen LaBute's movie because Terry and Maxine from "Being John Malkovich" have a lot in common. I was actually waiting for Terry to say to Jerry, "The thing is if you ever get me, you would not know what to do with me".

Jason Patric was a revelation - I don't know him very well but I remember that he gave a very good performance in "Narc". As for the scene in a steam room, it is not just the best of the film; it is one of the best scenes - monologues ever. I know not many would agree with me but the scene is as powerful, unforgettable and strangely erotic as the monologue in Bergman's "Persona". LaBute's writing, his camera, and mesmerizing performance by Patric made this scene an instant classic.

The film is not perfect and sometimes it drags but overall I found it interesting and enjoyable. You don't have to like the characters in order to like and appreciate the film. Sadly, the beautiful, sensual and talented Nastassja Kinski (Cherri) does not have much to play while Ben Stiller does and I am not his fan - even in this film.

LaBute's usage of "Metallica"s "Enter Sandman" (performed by Apocalyptica) during the opening and the closing credits instantly pulled me in and Bryony Atkinson's song "My Hollow" is terrific.
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8/10
Not a great movie, but it draws us in with its subtle power and intrigue. ***1/2 (out of four)
Movie-1223 August 2001
YOUR FRIENDS & NEIGHBORS / (1998) ***1/2 (out of four)

"Your Friends & Neighbors" is not really a film about sex, although every single scene, in some form or another, depicts its characters' obsessions with sexuality. The sex is not the subject of the film, but rather a medium for the characters to display various forms of behavior. Through eight very different characters, we realize the differences of behaviors, personalities, attitudes, and various degrees of selfishness. Although wealthy and classy, none of the characters are role model citizens. This is a tricky film to watch, never particularly entertaining, but often curiously involving. The sexual content and strong language will turn many audiences off, but this movie does have a solid understanding of itself, and I honor its art.

Neil Lebute is clearly more interested in the characters' sex lives than in a clear, concise story. Ben Stiller and Catherine Keener play partners. They have good friends, another couple played by Amy Brenneman and Aaron Eckhart. Stiller and Brenneman have an affair. Keener has issues with her partner's verbal expressions during sex-she finds a mate in a female artist's assistant played by Nastassja Kinski. Eckhart is his own favorite sexual partner. Jason Patrick plays a cruel, arrogant womanizer who forces his will on others. Eventually, the characters' selfishness destroys their own relationships. We become infatuated with these circumstances.

Many of the scenes contain a strange, subtle power of intrigue. One of my selection of scenes takes place in an art gallery, where the various characters chat with Nastassja Kinski's character. They have the same conversations, but the scenes end differently. Another fantastic scene is where the three men relax in a steam room and discuss their favorite sexual encounters. Jason Patrick's explanation packs a powerful, disturbing punch. Although these scenes do not necessarily construct a story, that's not a problem. The focus here is the vivid dialogue, the aggressive behavior, and the keen direction. This isn't a movie about a story. It's a movie about behavior.

The characters talk about sex constantly-whether it's in the supermarket, the basketball court, in bed, an art gallery, public restaurants, gym showers, their homes, business places, steam rooms, and more. The movie lacks passion to share with the audience, but we can tell Lebute is passionate about writing these characters. There is constantly an uneasy tension between most of them; they form no chemistry or charisma. He isolates them in their own world so that we can watch the interaction, not the romance.

"Your Friends & Neighbors" initially received an NC-17 rating by the MPAA. It contains very little nudity, no violence, and only a few scenes of actual sex. It received an R on appeal, but perhaps we should examine the association's motives for the higher rating. The discussions of sex in this movie are more vivid, more disturbing, more vivid than any actual act of sex. In a way, the MPAA honored the movie's power. They proved that Neil Lebute's social drama is certainly not for all audiences, and it's not really a great movie, but we should strongly respect the angle and courage.
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7/10
Could These People Be More Screwed Up?
gbheron18 November 2000
Good movies do not have to be about pleasant subjects, many excellent films are about depressing subjects or have sad endings. Neil Labute's first two movies are definitely not happy, and delve deeply into the dark side of modern human existence. They both address the same issue, human dysfunction and evil amidst the bounty of white collar America. In "Your Friends and Neighbors", Labute has us eavesdrop on two Yuppie couples and their friends. For various reasons (mostly of a sexual nature), the couplings are disintegrating, and we're treated to listening in on the action; in bedrooms, in restaurants, and in steam rooms. Labute writes excellent dialogue and the movie is well acted. Unfortunately, "Your Friends and Neighbors" lacks the dramatic punch of his first film. We just watch as the characters screw up their lives, and the lives of their supposed friends and loved-ones. Afterwards you just want to take a shower. A toss-up to grade; if it sounds interesting rent it.
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8/10
Extremely underrated film
Snoopymichele14 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
CONTAINS SPOILERS THROUGHOUT The first time I saw this film, I came away not liking it. It was disturbing, heavy, and none of the characters were very likable. But through the years I have seen it a few more times, and it has grown on me considerably.

I must be honest here-I saw it only because it had Jason Patric and Aaron Eckhart (two actors that I can truly say I became a fan of from seeing them in their earliest roles-Lost Boys for Patric and In The Company of Men for Eckhart), and they delivered on their performances. Patric's character is one of the most twisted and narcissistic characters in cinema history, but he brings a vulnerability and a likability to the screen, and it's hard to hate him. You want to know where he's coming from, and you get a glimpse after he describes a brutal sexual encounter in which he attacks a classmate, and then says it's the best sex he ever had. Even though it is an ensemble cast, Patric owns the film. Eckhart, in a 360 turn from his character in the aforementioned In The Company of Men, plays a nerdy, emotionally distant husband who can't enjoy sex with anyone but himself. Amy Brenneman, as a neglected housewife who has an (almost) affair with Ben Stiller's character does a good job, but you never see it coming when she ends up with Patric, and it makes no sense. The always brilliant Catherine Keener puts in another deadpan performance, this time as the bitchy artist type who decides she prefers a woman (the luminous Nastasja Kinski) over Stiller. She does get hers in the end, after she snottily rejects Patric's character and he puts her in her place. Ben Stiller, who most of the time annoys me with his constant mugging and nervous jittery energy, fits in well with the cast, and you end up feeling sorry for his character. He means well, he just seeks out the wrong women.

The movie is talky, but the conversations are riveting. You want to hear more, and learn more about what makes these characters tick. Overall, I give the movie an 8 out of 10.
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8/10
Distaste for the human condition, all brought to us by Neil LaBute
Agent1013 August 2002
With a better cast and an even more disturbing group of characters, Neil LaBute failed to disappoint in his sophomore effort. Laced with dark dialogue and realistic reactions conducive to the actions of the characters, this film actually surpasses In The Company of Men in regards to the evil that is known as the human condition. With some great performances by the likes of Jason Patric, Catherine Keener, Ben Stiller, Amy Brenneman and Aaron Eckhart, this film really sucks you into this unsatisfied world of betrayal and sex. A film only Todd Solondtz couldn't have made (if anyone else could have made it).
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Entertaining if bleak with a slightly depressing moral
bob the moo12 March 2003
Jerry lives with Terri but Terri is irritated by everything he does especially the way he talks during sex and needs to analyse everything. They are friends with Barry and Mary who have sexual problems as Mary is rarely roused for sex. Jerry makes a move to meet up with Mary to have sex behind Barry's back. Meanwhile Cheri works at an art gallery and picks up people there and Jerry and Barry's friend Cary lives his sex life devoid of any care or consideration for anyone else.

I have previously seen In the Company Of Men so I was prepared for the sort of view point the director seems to take regarding the nature of men and women but even then, this is still a pretty depressing look at relationships. Our characters are barely even given names, certainly no last names, and they are rarely used when you listen. More than that the names are pretty typical – the sort of names you might make up if you were put on the spot, like John Smith. The point being that these characters are not supposed to be fictional but more `everyman' characters. However is this what everyone is like? – does everyone have major relationship issues and try to have affairs with their best friends etc? Do people really have stories of male rape as their best sexual experience? I doubt it – this is a real condensing of the whole human experience into a handful of characters.

It works quite well because it is very frank and this kept my interest. Not shocking but I did want to keep watching because the dialogue was good. Sadly I could have cared less about the actual lives before me. As a plot I didn't get involved partly because it was so fake feeling – it was obvious from day 1 that LaBute was not going to give us the luxury of even one mildly messed up relationship, no – it was obvious that everything that could fail would. The dialogue does save the film as it is well written and darkly funny, however it just wasn't enough of a story – instead it was rather smugly self aware.

The cast do well with the dialogue and the film is staged more like a play than a roaming film, with mostly static interior shots used. Stiller is good but doesn't excel himself. Eckhart shows how good an actor he is by playing a character so the opposite of his character in LaBute's previous film and playing it well. Patric steals the show but his character is the least developed. He is the funny one and is like Eckhart's character in `In the Company Of Men' in that he is selfish and cruel to women. However his character seems to be LaBute's ideal in this piece as he is the only one who seems to get what he wants – is this the moral of the film? The female characters are weaker as you'd expect. Brenneman cuts a pathetic character and simply mops around a lot. Kinski is given little to do although Keener has a stronger part to play.

Overall I enjoyed this because it was full of good dialogue that keeps you listening because of how very frank it is. However that doesn't mean that the story or film is involving and it does feel a little distant and not based in any life I've ever lived. A bit too cruel, harsh and dark but it just about gets by on those credentials – but the music of Metallica played on violin is worth watching the credits for!
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9/10
"Those People" am YOU
LouisaMay2 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
If you're a person (especially between 25 and 35), without emotional depth or without spiritual (not necessarily religious) inklings of something beyond yourself, you're morally adrift on a raft of tortuous narcissism. That's what this movie says. Not having emotional depth doesn't mean you don't feel things deeply; it means here you can't empathize with others. In fact the movie shows graphically that without the qualities and sensitivities we think make us most vulnerable, all we can be is mentally wounded, emotionally hurt, damaging to others. A more realistic, sensible portrait of narcissism and its discontents I've never seen. Everyone in this film is so focused on his or her self, nothing that could help can enter. Here is a world without anything transcendent, without even community through which to escape the prison of self absorption. Here is a take on contemporary America.
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9/10
Unflinching
ebrown211231 August 2003
Neil LaBute is one of my favorite filmmakers of recent years, and this film is one of his best. He creates distinctive characters, some selfish, some self-loathing, and lets them develop in sometimes unexpected ways. The writing is satirical at times, but that's fine - it's never forced. The directions in which these characters go ultimately feel like natural progressions. Sometimes you can't believe what you're seeing and hearing, but it all fits. The cast is up to the challenges of the material - especially Jason Patric, who gives his best performance in years.
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10/10
An excellent movie
Mary-753 September 1999
"Your Friends and Neighbors" is a movie about relationships, sex and the effects of both. This is pointed out clearly in the beginning when Jerry (Ben Stiller) uses direct address as an introduction. By having Jerry (Stiller) speak directly to the movie audience, LaBute communicates the significance and meaning of his movie. This movie is a fine example of a character-based movie done the right way. LaBute manages to have six very round (if not dynamic) characters whose interactions serve to show the frustration of relationships quite eloquently. One of the best aspects of this movie is the dialogue; the characters' feelings always come through through their conversations. Even Mary (Amy Brenneman) is able to portray her feelings effectively with her concise statements. For example, her response to Jerry (Stiller) when he is trying to become involved with her again is "people are weird, and you couldn't keep your erection." There are countless dialogues like this one, quick-witted and bitterly realistic. If you aren't the kind of person who enjoys a true character-based movie, maybe you should skip this one. All the characters have very real flaws that abrogate any growth, for those of you who crave action and a happy ending; this movie will most likely bore you.
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