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Friends with Benefits


Year: 2011 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Will Gluck 
Starring: Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis  
An image from Friends with Benefits

Jamie (Mila Kunis) is a consultant attempting to recruit Justin Timberlake (Dylan) for a job in New York. A firm connection is made between the two and they continue their friendship after Dylan accepts the job. One evening, both plied with alcohol and still wounded from their respective break-ups, the two friends ask the question: why can’t they have just friendship and sex with the same person and leave all the complicated emotional stuff out? They make a pact: ‘no emotions; just sex’. The arrangement works out well for both of them. At first. However, as the two spend more time together, it becomes harder to stick to the deal...

This film is a rare exception amongst rom-coms in that it also holds its own as a straight comedy. With talent such as Patricia Clarkson (Easy A; Lars and the Real Girl) as Jamie’s mother; Jenna Elfman (Dharma & Greg) as Dylan’s sister; and Woody Harrelson, making a superb turn as a gay friend in denial that he’s middle-aged; there is a strong cast of comedy hard-hitters. Richard Jenkins (Burn After Reading; Eat, Pray, Love) also delivers some very real and powerful moments as Dylan’s father, struggling to deal with his worsening Alzheimer’s.

By mocking the worst clichés of the genre, Friends with Benefits manages to avoid the major pitfalls. There is no spontaneous poetry, or sweeping grand gestures; even the sex scenes are played for laughs, with hilarious honesty from both sides. Indeed, it is the banter and chemistry between Kunis and Timberlake that makes this film feel so fresh.

If you only watch one romantic comedy this year, make it Friends with Benefits.

Natalie Tyldesley

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Screenings of this film:

2011/2012 Spring Term (35mm)
2011/2012 Spring Term (35mm)