A realistic, unsentimental portrait of the closeness of adolescent friendship, Two Friends was the film debut of director Jane Campion. It received a theatrical release in the U.S. ten years after being made for TV in Australia. The narrative structure is told backwards, telling the story of the disintegrated friendship back in time toward its highest peak, but is nowhere near as demanding as the reverse action in Christopher Nolan's Memento (2001). Nothing in the story really warrants the use of such a device, anyway; it is a simple, sad, and rarely seen drama of being a 15-year-old girl. The strong-headed Louise (Emma Coles) and the restless Kelly (Kris Bidenko) give nuanced performances as the troubled teenagers trying to forge a connection amidst the typical problems with boys, school, and, significantly, parents. The deceptively common subject matter is treated with significant care and tenderness. Almost cinéma vérité, Campion captures everyday activities like grocery shopping, talking on the phone, and watching late night movies on TV with a meaningful respect and grace. Other sparkling moments involve Louise's well-meaning mother, Janet (Kris McQuade); the relationship between the mother and daughter rings true of simultaneous closeness and reluctance. Though technically crude at times -- the poor sound recording coupled with the Australian accents makes some of the dialogue difficult to understand for the U.S. audience -- Two Friends nevertheless scores as an honest look at a deteriorating friendship and the impacts of parental involvement in shaping identity. Jane Campion would return to some of these themes in her successful black comedy Sweetie.
by Andrea LeVasseur review