UK Release Date: 25th September 2015
Runtime: 112 minutes
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Writer: Morwenna Banks
Starring: Toni Collette, Drew Barrymore, Dominic Cooper, Paddy Considine
Synopsis: Two women find their life-long friendship pushed to the limit when one of them is diagnosed with aggressive cancer at the same time as the other’s life changes for the better.
Last year, John Green’s teen drama The Fault In Our Stars had audiences across the world weeping at the injustice of its heart-breaking cancer plotline. It’s the turn of the more adult crowd this year, with Toni Collette and Drew Barrymore starring in poignant dramedy Miss You Already as best friends put through major turmoil when one is diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.
Milly (Collette) and Jess (Barrymore) have been friends since childhood and their families are now close friends along with their respective husbands Kit (Dominic Cooper) and Jago (Paddy Considine). Milly discovers a lump on her breast, which is revealed to be a malignant tumour. Meanwhile, Jess and Jago’s attempts to have a baby finally come to fruition when Jess falls pregnant. She struggles, however, to tell her friend about her happiness.
On the surface, Miss You Already seems like the classic blueprint for a trite, saccharine drama designed solely to make the audience cry. However, that really sells short the charm of the film, which is populated by easily identifiable, recognisably human characters. The film is equal parts sentimental drama and sharp-tongued comedy, dealing as much in shockingly black humour as it does in emotional set pieces.
| "I didn’t have many pictures that Milly wasn’t in."
Toni Collette is terrific at the centre of it all as Milly. She’s a deeply flawed human being whose deficiencies are only highlighted and amplified once she is diagnosed with the illness. Far from becoming a saintly victim of a twist of fate, Milly becomes an intolerable, angry woman as a result of the cancer, creating a refreshingly real dynamic between her and Barrymore, who relishes the straight role and imbues it with real depth.
The true strength of Miss You Already, though, is in its willingness to laugh at its characters. Both Barrymore and Collette are frequently the butt of dark jokes and it makes their relationship all the more real. The fact is that friends do dig at each other in brutal fashion and Morwenna Banks’ script does not shy away from exploring that aspect of friendship, through the prism of the two tremendous central turns. Paddy Considine and Dominic Cooper are equally strong as the male characters in the background of it all.
Miss You Already has such mastery of its tone that it can be forgiven for its occasional lapses into generic weepie territory. Director Catherine Hardwicke’s work does a stellar job of navigating the murky waters between sentimental and saccharine, staying just the right side of that dichotomy. Sentimentality is often seen as something of a dirty word when critiquing films, but Miss You Already uses it as a tool to explore its characters and their world rather than shamelessly tugging at heartstrings.
| "I’m not dead yet, so let’s drink to that."
On the face of it, Miss You Already seems like the kind of film that will fly past many cinemagoers who may be put off by its very generic marketing that fails to sell the darkness and realism at the heart of the story. However, it’s far more than the sum of its parts and is, in fact, a very effective drama with clearly-defined characters at its heart.
Pop or Poop?
Dramas that focus on the effects of disease are often more about the illness than the person it affects. That is not the case in Miss You Already, which focuses squarely on Toni Collette and her tenderly balanced relationship with Drew Barrymore.
There’s laughter aplenty alongside the tears as the script showcases mastery of tone and an unflinching commitment to creating real people rather than maudlin caricatures.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.