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YOUR FRIENDS & NEIGHBOURS

USA, 1998 (MIFF 1999, International Panorama)

Director: Neil Labute

In a pre-credit sequence, a hunky young stud, Gary (Jason Patric), sweating from exercise hisses dramati­cally, "I think you're a great lay." As it transpires, he is dictating the line into a tape recorder, rehearsing it to be used on a number of different women. As just one exam­ple of the narcissism and cynicism reflected by the prin­cipal cast of Your Friends and Neighbours, this moment perfectly captures the inherent voyeurism and cruelty of the film. The many interactions between the characters are sharply observed and imbued with dark humour but, unlike Woody Allen for example, LaBute has little affec­tion tor his creations and he remorselessly mocks their pretensions and shallow nature.

LaBute's ensemble includes Ben Stiller as Jerry, a man compelled to provide his own hilarious narration aloud during sex, and Nastassja Kinski as a vampy home-wrecker who steals away Jerry's wife. In a series of episodes the half dozen characters are cuckolded, mocked, deceived and humiliated—all to the audi­ence's immense delight. A provocative examination of the lies that bind.

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