On My To-See List: Five Friends

The new documentary Five Friends is so named for an Elbert Hubbard quote: “My father always used to say that when you die, if you’ve got five real friends, you’ve had a great life.” The movie investigates the relationship between one man, Hank Mandel, and his five friends, while interspersing commentary from a sociologist and a pastor, both of whom specialize in male relationships.

At least, this is what I gather from the trailer and website.

I haven’t had a chance to see Five Friends yet. I only first learned about it last Friday, when a reader emailed me  with a heads up. (Thanks Maria!) Of course I immediately clicked over to watch the trailer and some clips, and I’ve most certainly added it to my mental to-watch list.

The movie asks many of the same questions I do on this blog—Why do we need friends when we have romantic partners? Why can men tease each other and women can’t? Why don’t men talk??—but it’s definitely interesting to see these issues addressed from a male perspective. It’s almost jarring, seeing men seriously discuss friendship, because it’s so unusual.

I remember when I first started writing this blog and book, I overheard Matt talking to one of his friends about it. “You should see how much women talk about friendship,” he said. “It’s nuts.”

It’s not in most men’s nature to discuss their friendships. They live their friendships. Perhaps this is a generalization, but I’d say that analyzing their relationships isn’t in the male DNA.

However, it’s worth noting that Hank is 65 years old, while Matt is 29. Do men become more reflective about their relationships as they age? Perhaps. I really wouldn’t know considering I am not a man and I am not in my 60s. But I wouldn’t be shocked.

On their website, the filmmakers say that America has become obsessed with male friendship: “We live in the age of the ‘bromance,'” they say. But even so, there is an akwardness and uncertainty that surrounds man-friends, they claim. “Men need men, it’s just that we don’t talk about it.”

I’ve maintained on this blog that female friendships and male friendships are fundamentally different. I still believe that. But just because they are different doesn’t mean either one is less important. It just means I’ll never entirely understand how the other half lives. But this documentary (trailer below!) seems like a good start.

What do you think? Do men need men as much as women need women? Did you find it unusual, even surprising, to see these men talk about male friendship so openly?

2 Comments

Filed under The Search

2 responses to “On My To-See List: Five Friends

  1. Wow! That looks super interesting!!

    My husband has 3 best friends that he’s had since he was a kid. They’re all 4 completely different as could possibly be, but they’re like brothers. Doesn’t seem to matter how long they’ve been apart or what roads they’ve taken in life, these guys are all very close. When I started dating my husband in high school, I met these three guys and realized that when they all get together everyone else kind of disappears. They almost speak a different language. That’s when I came to terms with the fact that if I was going to really be serious about the guy I was dating, I’d better become good friends with his friends…and his friends’ moms so I’d have someone to talk to when we’d go to their houses. Those 3 guys were the first ones to visit me when I went to the hospital to have our first baby (they were there before my own friends).

    There is no upkeep on their friendships. No worrying that they haven’t talked to each other in months or that if we make a quick trip home to Illinois and don’t see one of them but see another one that there will be jealousy and hurt feelings. It’s kind of something I envy, you know?

  2. Rachel,
    So nice to see your blog and what you had to say about our film “Five Friends”. It is wonderful how it has been received in a very short time. I think we are touching an important issue in our society about deep, transparent, emotionally connected relationships between men. The men in the movie are from 37 – 73 in age and I think your point that as men get older they become freer to express themselves and share the depths of their life.
    I hope you will be able to see the film soon.
    Best always and in appreciation,
    Hank

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