Catherine Hardwicke relocates to London for British dramedy, Miss You Already, starring Toni Collette and Drew Barrymore. There’s an undeniable spark in this occasionally touching weepie, thanks to the performances of its lead actresses, however, numerous off-key narrative moments means this largely fails to convince.
Miss You Already sees lifelong best friends Jess (Barrymore) and Milly’s (Collette) relationship tested by the news that Milly has cancer.
In its quieter moments Miss You Already manages to touch the heartstrings, showing that Morwenna Banks’s screenplay has the capability to impress when it’s not opting for the Union Jack style camp it so often reaches for. Banks’s multi-faceted depiction of the cancer struggle is refreshingly bold – especially in its portrait of Milly’s gradual breakdown and the subsequent repercussions with Jess and husband, Kit (a solid Dominic Cooper). Miss You Already’s more conventional cancer struggle scenes – like Milly trying on wigs and getting chemotherapy – are also beautifully handled managing to be both sad and amusing.
As Milly grows overwhelmed by her diagnosis, her downward spiral grows more self-destructive – and whilst she’s brash, selfish and hurtful in this, Collette’s rich performance ensures we’re always in-tune with her occasionally warped motivations. Barrymore is impressive in a role requiring a little less dramatic flexibility than Collette, yet still manages to engage and occasionally amuse. The pair have a natural on-screen spark which counteracts the often unnatural and stagey aspects of Hardwicke and Banks’ film.
This comes in the form of the unlikeable faux “Britishness” in Miss You Already – from Jess living in a quaint little houseboat with a man called “Jago” and Milly marrying a former young rock star (complete with cringe-worthy wedding flashback) – it’s all a bit twee, unconvincing, and embarrassing. Let’s not forget the film’s middle act which involves a trip to the Yorkshire Moors and some thin Emily Brontë references – and shamefully doesn’t opt to use Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights anywhere in its soundtrack. These attempts at adding more backstory to the core narrative friendship do more harm than good and don’t sit right with the film’s more poignantly low-key humorous scenes.
A welcome saving grace comes in the form of Jacqueline Bisset‘s support as Milly’s thespian Mother – a role that is probed for comic value, yet Bisset is such a force to be reckoned with that she delivers some knockout emotional blows in the final act.
Miss You Already is by no means a trainwreck, but it’s tendency to opt for brash silliness means that it generally feels unconvincing. Collette, Barrymore and a scene-stealing turn from Bisset ensure that we’re always somewhat invested. It’s fine.
Drama, Romance, Comedy | USA, 2015 | 12A | eOne UK |25th September 2015 (UK) | Dir.Catherine Hardwicke | Drew Barrymore, Toni Collette, Dominic Cooper,Paddy Considine,Jacqueline Bisset