Won’t be missed11/11/2015
BFFs. Babies. Cancer.
Already this quick synopsis should give you a general idea of what you’re in for in Catherine Hardwicke’s “Miss You Already.” It’s clear that this is a movie designed to tug at your heartstrings. Yes, it’s manipulative, but does that really matter when you’re thumbing through tissues with someone you care about?
Jess (Drew Barrymore) is an American living in England. A flashback early on shows her as a fish out of water trying her best to be friendly. When a teacher asks her class what they know about being American, a young Milly (Toni Collette) responds with “the electric chair” and proceeds to pantomime capital punishment to the merriment of her class and Jess. And thus the friendship was born.
Their roles are quickly explained. Milly plays the part of ringleader for this duo, pulling Jess along to experience life to the fullest, even when they aren’t sure what is supposed to happen next. They experienced everything together, from first kisses and loss of virginity to finding love and getting married.
Milly is the free spirit who managed to wrangle Kit, a rock and roll roadie played by Dominic Cooper. At first it seems like they are two young kids who accidently got pregnant, but instead of the film turning dreary in its first 15 minutes, these two are shown to not only be great parents but also great individuals who are fully committed to their family and their work.
Jess seems content to be the Tonto to Milly’s Lone Ranger. Instead of the fast life, she’s more at home helping people and the planet and ends up working for a social service organization. She finds love in the form of Jago, a blue-collar worker who occasionally has to go off and work in the tough cold waters of the North Sea on oil rigs when the money gets tight.
Like many friends in our own lives, these two succeed in their contrast. Everything about them is different. Milly is tall, blonde, curt, wears high heels and is occasionally vain and self-centered. Jess is short, dark-haired, pregnant, open-minded, wears Birkenstocks and occasionally lets others take advantage of her kindness. But their conversation is fast, fun and full of sarcasm and tension-diffusing jokes.
In one of the most powerful scenes of the film, Milly is sitting in a dark bathroom following her double-mastectomy surgery. Kit is ashamed of the way he looks at his wife, and Jess offers to speak with her. Milly is topless and needs her bandages redressed, and following the reveal (to Jess, not necessarily the audience), Jess has perhaps the most endearing and lovely moments of the movie that removes any further question of how close these two are.
“Come on Frankentits. Let’s get you bandaged up.”
Let’s get it straight: This is a movie that is going to make you feel things. I was shocked to be the only male in the theater, but I certainly wasn’t the dry eye in the house. I’m not a monster.
Unfortunately, for most of the film, plotting is a bit haphazard, and a protracted 250-mile trek to the Yorkshire Moors and hard cuts to the Jago on the oil rig create unnecessary conflict. Hardwicke also overdoes it with close-ups; wielding the camera inches from Collette’s nose when she gets further injections of bad news feels invasive. Collette is skilled at suffering, just as Barrymore is good at letting her chirpy good nature crack open, but Hardwicke might have trusted both of them to do their thing without zooming in for the kill.
Like a friend who tells you she just found out she has cancer, I’m not sure what to say about this film. It’s emotional, raw and heartwarming. It’s drawn out, contrived and often dull. Ultimately, you’ll leave the theater with little doubt that these women truly love one another, and, no matter what, we’d all like to have a friend we call “best.” CV