Directed By Neil Labute
By: Eric G.
Director Neil Labute made quite an impression on audiences last year with In The Company Of Men- a disturbing portrayal of two men plotting to humiliate a deaf woman in a sad act of revenge for the self-hatred and insecurity they feel about themselves. Labute’s caustic dialogue was shocking because it was so frighteningly honest and amoral. Your Friends And Neighbors reaches similar heights of uneasiness and disturbance, but this time Labute casts a wider net, involving both sexes in his plot to reveal the cold nature of certain hearts.
Jason Patric plays a demonic sex-fiend, whose emotionless hunt for the “perfect fuck” endears him to his less passionate, yes-men pals played by Aaron Eckhart and, to a lesser extent, Ben Stiller. Patric’s performance seethes with hatred and a truly warped sense of logic. The tensest scene of the film takes place in a steam bath where the three “friends” nag each other to reveal their best lays. Eckhart’s spineless character goads Patric’s into an icy monologue about the time he raped a male schoolmate for turning him in for cheating. The scene creates a completely unnerving atmosphere, exacerbated by Labute’s slow zoom into Patric’s face as he spews his alarmingly revealing yet unashamedly honest diatribe.
Labute’s originality stems from his ability to juxtapose the blandness of every day routines with the dysfunctional inner-workings of other people’s sex lives. His pen is equally harsh to men and women and the inevitable damage that their selfish cruelty inflicts. Labute turns sex into a twisted game of betrayal and insecurity. The characters take turns stabbing each other in the back, and Labute wallows in the psychotic aftermath. Like fellow shock film auteur Todd Solondz, Neil Labute loves to make you feel uncomfortable while he teaches you a lesson about the evil that men and women do.