Starring: Sean Bury, Anicée Alvina, Ronald Lewis
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Running Time: 101 mins
Friends is a British film about an orphaned French girl who meets a rich English boy in Paris, and the two run away together to start their own life away from the adult world.
Despite having the potential for a pleasant and emotional romantic story about these two young teens coming of age and falling fully in love for the first time, this film is really disappointing, as it descends into a meandering, painful and pretentious story that is nowhere near as pleasantly engaging as it could have been, making it at times almost unwatchable.
But before we get into that, there are some positives to be noted. Like I said, the premise for this film is very interesting, and in the first twenty minutes or so, you have some sense of enjoyment as you see these two young people’s characters grow massively in such a short space of time, and in a very light and largely engaging way, making those establishing stages by far the best part of the film.
Another good point is the soundtrack, all sung by Elton John. It’s the only thing that retains the pleasant atmosphere that would have worked with this concept much better, and is an absolute delight to listen to throughout, but it does clash with what is a very drab and unpleasant plot.
The story takes the approach that the two kids run away together, and do make their own life together away from all the restrictions of the adult world, but it’s a concept that goes south so quickly. Although it does show that relationships always descend the same way, towards problems, it’s so depressing to watch.
That may have been an interesting concept if the overriding atmosphere of the film were darker, but the fact that, with the soundtrack, the very young characters (whose relationship does reach the point of being disturbing at times), and the beautiful settings that feel like a lovely 60s summer romance story, it’s a frustrating clash that gives the film such a confused atmosphere.
Another big issue I had with Friends was the performances by the two young actors. They’re not child actors, and although they’re playing 12-14 year olds, are actually a few years older, so they have the capability to put in an emotionally convincing performance, but it really didn’t come through at all.
Although Anicée Alvina wasn’t terrible, just a bit bland, it was the performance Sean Bury which I couldn’t bare. His acting felt so forced and uncomfortable, and it really had a bad impact on my enjoyment and interest, because it made his character so unlikeable, meaning that I didn’t want the two to have a good relationship at any time because I hated him so much, which was really disappointing to see.
Overall, Friends is a film that misuses a potentially fascinating concept by getting muddled between high drama and pleasant young romance, and that’s why it gets a 5.4 from me.