Dir: Catherine Hardwicke
Cast: Drew Barrymore, Toni Colette, Paddy Considine and Dominic Cooper
Runtime: 112 minutes
Release date: September 25th
Miss You Already follows the lifelong friendship of Jess (Barrymore) and Millie (Colette). Having done everything together since childhood, their relationship is severely tested when Millie is diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer, warranting equally aggressive treatment. With Jess concurrently undergoing IVF, and later struggling with a difficult pregnancy while her husband (Considine) works away from home, the film explores how each woman copes, both physically and psychologically, with the extreme life-altering conditions in which they find themselves.
If the basic hook of ‘two longtime girlfriends cope with life, love and death’ sounds familiar, you’re probably already au fait with Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey’s prototypical Beaches, which had a similar focus on the role best friendship plays in a woman’s life, and the complex ways it changes with age and status. This largely feels like well-covered territory, and Miss You Already is a slighter, even tired version of this. Even when the writer/director team of Morwenna Banks and Catherine Hardwicke attempt some generically-subversive manoeuvres, they feel unconvincingly executed. The most successful of these is probably the film’s presentation of Millie as a self-described ‘selfish and shallow’ protagonist, fussing about her appearance and spurning well-intentioned kind gestures from those around her. Yet Colette’s performance throughout enhances what is a simplistic, if emotionally-charged script: her physical acting has a depth and grace to it which suggests more than what Millie is given to say or do on the page, managing to imbue even Millie’s most reckless actions not as childishly driven by self-gratification, but the desperate, terrified behaviour of someone who does not want to die.
Barrymore’s role by comparison comes off as, aptly, a supporting one, someone Millie needs more than her husband, children or her own mother as she battles her disease, a sweet, benign presence off-setting her friend’s abrasiveness. Again, the performance here is stronger than its source material; Barrymore and Colette do a great job of convincing us they love each other, even though bitty flashbacks and clangingly expositional dialogue do little to really establish why this might be. The film also features cursory appearances from a weirdly-stilted Paddy Considine and somewhat miscast Dominic Cooper as the apparently long-suffering husbands of Jess and Millie, and some rather delightful children, but the film hinges on its two leads, and they perform admirably.
Miss You Already is a well-acted mediation on female friendship, and just like hanging out with your best friend, there may not be anything new to say after a while, but it’s really more about making an emotional connection. While there is definitely an audience for it, those not already inclined towards a story like this have probably decided to miss it already.