“Her Friend Adam“, a 2016 short film by Ben Petrie, is a darkly comical creation of neurotic anxiety and volatile outburst, that epitomizes the precarious nature of a relationship in doubt, and the precipitous unravelling that can result from the smallest of misguided gestures. Robert and Liv are about to head out for a show, but her friend Adam needs to pick up a camera from the apartment before they leave. Insecure about their friendship, Robert goes to look through Liv’s phone when she’s out of the room.
In romance as in other aspects of life, confidence and certainty in affairs breeds a goodwill that enables such arrangements to flourish. What is most well-illustrated here, however, is just how pernicious the opposite could be, where one misstep can lead to more consequential faux pas. Robert’s self-gratifying need for assurance produces an exactly opposite measure: he has poetically received the assurance that he had so sought, only it is an assurance of dissolution and not the devotion that he had wished for.
Simultaneously, there is an exploration of the dynamics of friendship and relationship that blurs the distinction between the two, positioning Robert’s line of questioning into a more justifiable bracket. When the range of actions permissible within a union is ill-defined, the room for fallacious assumptions widens, and the possibility of strife increases. In a passionate embrace and exchange of affection with Adam, Liv embodies this quality of ambiguity, effectively a glimpse of Robert’s incubated uncertainty.
As the couple’s confrontation reaches a critical point, there is a notable shift in relational standing and a hypocritical sortie of words. Ironically, as Liv sets out to deconstruct Robert’s reductionist perturbation, she herself has committed to a reductionist viewpoint that demeans, perhaps for maximum punitive effect. In portraying both sides as being responsible for the other’s well-being and worse nature, the film is an acute consideration of the shared need for accommodation, lest an ignominious sundering follow.