Film Review – Miss You Already
Miss You Already
The best friend dramedy. It is has been done many times, yet the female population and their hormones have a need to make girl dates to see them along with any and all romantic comedies. Some are just not done well and end up being boring or unrealistic, while others have a special something or a storyline that makes the female audience connect with the story. Miss You Already enters the plentiful field and may win over your estrogen-filled (or –less) heart.
Miss You Already focuses on the best friend relationship of Milly (Toni Collette) and Jess (Drew Barrymore). They meet after a young Jess relocates to England and starts at the same school as Milly. Flash forward through teen years and many firsts to Jess and Milly in their thirties. Milly is still the wild child, but is the first to marry a rocker roadie, Kit (Dominic Cooper), and have two kids. Jess is behind in her life goals, but happy in relationship with Jago (Paddy Considine). Throw in Milly’s soap star mom, Miranda (Jacqueline Bisset), and you have a cast of quirky characters who are brought together by the friendship between Milly and Jess. Unfortunately, this is not a happy-go-lucky film. Milly is diagnosed with breast cancer and her treatment and disease bring everyone’s lives to stop.
One of the things that I admire about director Catherine Hardwicke and screenwriter Morwenna Banks take on friendship and cancer is that they did not sugar-coat the ugly things that happen. There are not many films that will go to places that Miss You Already did. This includes mastectomy scars, lots of puke, surgery drains, and all of the complex emotions that go with how you react to how your body’s changing. Cancer is not pretty and making it as realistic and raw is something to be admired about this film.
Going along with being a more truthful interpretation, the film also creates a more realistic friendship full of doubt, perceived competition, hate, lows, and highs. I have never had a friendship with someone where I did not want to shake them, yell at them, or push them off a cliff at some point. We all have these moments, and Milly and Jess’s friendship has its ups and downs. The story also pulls out Jess and Milly’s insecurities and deals with them, namely, Jess’s struggle to get pregnant and Milly’s loss of her freedom and her perceived femininity.
Being familiar with Catherine Hardwicke’s work, there are some shooting techniques that screamed Hardwicke. She also employed cinematographer Elliot Davis who worked on several of her previous films. This adds to the feel of a Hardwicke film. However, Miss You Already is perhaps Hardwicke’s most mainstream film and one that is sure to be seen by a larger audience. Back in 2008 in the heyday of Twilight, she broke records as a female director and she has been undervalued and underused since then.
Given its title, it is no spoiler that something happens by the end of Miss You Already. I have not heard that much snot-sniffling in a theatre since a screening of The Fault in Our Stars. The emotions ran high in the audience earlier than I expected. Alas, I did not have the tears in my eyes until the end, and by then, most were on their second or third Kleenex. Yeah, it drives an emotional punch at the end, but what matters is that the audience identified with Jess and Milly’s relationship and their problems. If they did not believe their strong bond, it would have fallen flat, even at the end. Hardwicke and her cast and crew managed to pull off a truthful best friends film. And while I cannot say that I loved the film, I certainly liked the film and admired what was put onscreen. Sometimes there is just too much generic crap in films like these, but Miss You Already is the rare exception.