Your Friends

A blessedly mature teen drama with universal themes.

Hong Kong Filmart HAS Screenings

"Your Friends" is the kind of melodrama that often borders on maudlin, but in director Hiroki Ryuichi's hands, that never happens. Working from Saito Hiroshi's screenplay, the film is a grown-up look at friendship and loss during two girls' turbulent adolescence that says as much about coping with illness and disability in modern Japan as it does about friendships that transcend death.

A deliberately paced, almost internal examination of communication and understanding, "Friends" willhave limited boxoffice prospects.

While researching a story on a school for disabled children, Nakahara (Fukushi Seiji) meets Emi, a university student who volunteers at the school. He's drawn to the enigmatic young woman, and after slowly winning her trust, he coaxes her own story from her over the course of several days at the school.

"Friends" slowly unravels Emi's history as a series of flashbacks: As a teenager, Emi (Ishibashi Anna) and Yuka (Kitaura Ayu) were unlikely friends. The two came together after a car accident left Emi with a shattered leg. Yuka, meanwhile, had her own chronic illness.

It's a simple story that has been told countless times in countless films. Put together in bits and pieces, "Friends" chronicles the progression of Emi and Yuka's friendship in flashes, leaving plenty of time to reflect on how the pair arrived at the workable place they do.