Sex can be complicated, confusing, and permeated with every emotion and motive imaginable. This is certainly true for the six characters in Your Friends & Neighbors, which is writer and director Neil LaBute's follow-up to his bold debut In the Company of Men. The uneasiness and ambivalence the men and women in this drama experience with each other reflects the continuing sexual wars in society at large.
Cary (Jason Patric) is a self-obsessed doctor whose misogyny comes across in his cruel treatment of various women who are unlucky enough to come under his power. His two best friends have their own problems with intimacy. Barry (Aaron Eckhart) turns to the pleasures of masturbation since he's unable to sexually arouse his wife Mary (Amy Brenneman). In her unhappiness, she agrees to a secret rendezvous with Jerry (Ben Stiller), a drama professor. It turns into a fiasco that's unfulfilling for both of them. Meanwhile Jerry's girlfriend Terri (Catherine Keener) begins an affair with Cheri (Nastassja Kinski) who works at an art gallery.
Your Friends & Neighbors is a cautionary tale about the various ways men and women use words and sex to hurt each other. Instead of serving love and understanding, words and sex are used for power, punishment, revenge, and self-destruction. Even the camaraderie of the men is laced with anger, distrust, and competition. Your Friends & Neighbors is not a pleasant film to watch but it does shine a spotlight on some aspects of contemporary sexual politics.