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.
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?