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Endearing Debut Tackles Aging Friendships

Endearing Debut Tackles Aging Friendships

An instantly identifiable duo stands at the center of Adult Best Friends, Delaney Buffett’s endearing feature debut premiering at Tribeca. Delaney (Buffett) and Katie (Katie Corwin) are the kind of pals whose relationship spans decades and whose co-dependence runs deep. They met in seventh grade while taking refuge in the bathroom during a party. Old photographs, home videos and screen recordings of FaceTime calls neatly summarize their friendship, proving they have been inseparable ever since. 

In the present day, Delaney and Katie are still close but there are faint cracks. The pair have grown into different kinds of people. Katie abides by the pragmatic outline of conventional adulthood. She lives with her boyfriend (Mason Gooding) and prefers an early-morning ceramic class over a late-night bender. Delaney approaches life with more candor, rejecting protocol for intuition. She shares an apartment with a spiky friend (Cazzie David) and gags at the idea of anything longer than a one-night stand. Her mercurial moods and chaotic days makes Hannah Horvath’s life seem stable. Like Pamela Adlon’s Babes, Adult Best Friends is about the strangeness of getting older — the tensions, banality and bizarreness inherent in changing friendships. With her co-writer (and real-life best friend) Corwin, Buffett tackles a familiar genre via a charming but sparsely plotted seaside adventure. 

Adult Best Friends

The Bottom Line

A breezy take on a universal experience.

Venue: Tribeca Film Festival (U.S. Narrative Competition)
Cast: Katie Corwin, Delaney Buffett, Zachary Quinto, Cazzie David, Mason Gooding, Casey Wilson
Director: Delaney Buffett
Screenwriters: Katie Corwin, Delaney Buffett

1 hour 30 minutes

Adult Best Friends breezes through a single weekend, when Katie plans a surprise beach vacation for Delaney. The plan is to delicately break the news of her engagement to her friend, who struggles with change and rarely takes dramatic news well. From conversations Katie has with her fiancé John (Gooding) and older brother Henry (Zachary Quinto), we learn that the survival of this friendship depends on a dynamic in which Katie capitulates to Delaney’s needs and desires. It’s an unfair arrangement for both women, who, it seems, haven’t been honest with themselves or each other for years. On the drive to the beach — where exactly Adult Best Friends takes place is not totally clear — a palpable nervousness hangs in the air. 

Buffett’s film coasts on the genuine chemistry between the two leads. As real-world friends, Buffett and Corwin, like Ilana Glazer and Michelle Buteau in Babes, have the history and appropriate comedic chops to make us buy the relationship between their characters. Although written with a light touch, the warmth between Delaney and Katie doesn’t feel manufactured. That authenticity imbues the arguments and emotional climax of the film with real stakes. 

Much of the action in Adult Best Friends takes place in a beach town, which represents a liminal space between the past and the future. Katie tries to remap the realities of adulthood onto their experience of this coastal locale. She opts for a private rental instead of their usual frat-brother-approved hotel (aptly named Pelican Palace) and plans activities that don’t include keg stands. Delaney, on the other hand, clings to the past and protests Katie’s attempts to mute their weekend. She’s on a hunt for parties and to linger at bars until they close.  

With these warring desires, it’s unsurprising that the magical getaway is doomed from the start. When Katie and Delaney get to their rental, they discover an overbearing host (Cory Walls) whose rules include no parties, no alcohol and no noise. They end up spending most of their weekend in the company of a bachelor party, a lively crew that includes a mellow groom (Connor Hines), his future brother-in-law (Benjamin Norris), an odd tech mogul (Michael Rowland) and their thrill-seeking BFF (Carmen Christopher). Katie and Delaney also run into an obnoxious college friend (Miki Ishikawa) and her pretentious husband (Alexander Hodge). These encounters remind the duo of their calcifying differences, and force them to consider if those differences can be overcome. 

Adult Best Friends tackles Katie and Delaney’s growing pains with a lot of laughs. Similar to Taylor Garron’s As of Yet (2021), Adult Best Friends is a showcase for the comedic gifts of Buffett’s cast. Scenes of Delaney half-heartedly participating in Zoom meetings with her team (Casey Wilson, Owen Thiele) highlight the ridiculousness of contemporary work culture while Katie’s dinner with Henry and his wife (Heather Mazur) humorously cuts at over-reliance on therapy speak. Even when the plot sprawls, shifting from a study of rootbound friendships to a broader conversation about living life on your own terms, the sharp writing sustains our focus as we root for Katie and Delaney’s own version of happily ever after. 

Full credits

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Venue: Tribeca Film Festival (U.S. Narrative Competition)
Production company: Before The Door Pictures
Cast: Katie Corwin, Delaney Buffett, Zachary Quinto, Cazzie David, Mason Gooding, Casey Wilson, Owen Thiele, Benjamin Norris, Alexander Hodge, Carmen Christopher, Miki Ishikawa, Heather Mazur, Michael Rowland, Connor Hines, Cory Walls, Jolie Handler, Keeley Karsten, Holly Bonney, Hannah Campbell
Director: Delaney Buffett
Screenwriters: Katie Corwin, Delaney Buffett
Producers: Marie Nikolova, Delaney Buffett
Executive producers: Zachary Quinto, Evan Arnold, Katie Corwin, Adam McCurdy
Cinematographer: Jessica Pantoja
Production designer: Mackenzie McMahon
Costume designer: Faithima Wright
Editor: Ian Holden
Composer: Alexandra Kalinowski
Sales: Visit Films

1 hour 30 minutes

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