I don’t remember whether it was John Keats or Jane Campion I first fell in love with. But undoubtedly, Bright Star has a special place in my heart. As a poem and as the film that so closely resembles the former. My initial crush and now long-lasting romance with Jane Campion’s most recent effort as a director has led me on a quest to discover the rest of her celebrated filmography.
Previous posts: The Shorts
After receiving international recognition for her shorts films, Jane Campion directed the TV show Dancing Daze, which unfortunately, I wasn’t able to track down. Even finding a copy of her follow-up TV movie 2 Friends proved difficult – but I luckily, I eventually managed to.
The two friends from the title of the movie are young adults Kelly (Kris Bidenko) and Louise (Emma Coles). Their friendship has lasted forever but starts to crumble when Kelly gets more interested in boys, smoking and parties, than her unimpressed friend. However, Louise understands that Kelly has a troubled home life and tries to preserve he friendship. But when Kelly’s stepfather forbids her to go to the prestigious high school that she and Louise got admitted to, there seems to be no going back.
Years before Memento hit the big screen, Jane Campion, along with her writer Helen Garner, decided to tell a story backwards on film. They are very open about jumping back in time, although initially, it feels like just flash-backs. When it dawned on me that this is what they’re doing, I became intrigued. What seemed like a fairly depressing tale of a crumbling friendship now turns into something more – we are allowed to go back to when things were all right. For some, that may be even more depressing, but personally, I enjoyed the nostalgic aspect of this. The further they go back, the brighter the colors, at times there are even fantastical elements to the film. It is the ultimate dream for someone who has lost an important person in their lives: to be able to go back and be in that time when things were good.
The actors are pretty good, especially for a TV movie. I can see why they didn’t receive more recognition, after all they are not absolutely amazing and this is a New Zealand TV movie, even if it was shown at Cannes. The production value reflects that as well, and it can be tedious at times, but the story is good enough to overshadow it most of the time.
I wouldn’t say that 2 Friends is an amazing film in any way. It is way too simple, not enough goes on on-screen or off-screen for me to really be in the moment and completely connect with it. But it is a quiet reflection on teenage friendship and the sad reality of growing apart from your friend, done in a refreshing way.