Miss You Already – Review

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Upon watching the trailer for Catherine Hardwicke’s latest movie, Miss You Already, or even if just unfortunate enough to have seen the mawkish poster every single day of the week as you navigate your way around the city – you couldn’t be blamed for imagining this title to be a completely sentimental, corny, Fault in Our Stars-esque bore-fest, abiding faithfully to the tropes of your typical drama about somebody being diagnosed with cancer. But get ready to be surprised, because here’s a film that is poignant in its message and executed with a deft touch, to make for a stirring and emotive piece of cinema.

Jess (Drew Barrymore) and Milly (Toni Collette) may be chalk and cheese, but they’ve been the very best of friends ever since childhood. Having been through a lot, they now face their biggest obstacle yet, as the latter is diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. With a supportive husband in Kit (Dominic Cooper) and two adorable young children, we watch on as the chemotherapy treatment takes its toll on this woman. In the meantime, Jess finally discovers she’s pregnant after months of trying with her partner Jago (Paddy Considine), but she’s reluctant to pass on her good news to a friend who is having a really tough time of it.

Though undoubtedly cliched in parts, luckily it’s not a sentiment that extends across this production, primarily because Milly is not a sympathetic character. She’s a flawed creation, and is very human, who makes mistakes. Also referred to at one stage as a ‘cancer bully’ by Jess for using her illness to get what she wants. This is why the film works, because it’s not a film that demands pity about a brave young woman, it’s more realistic portrayal, that makes the viewer work hard to empathise with the lead role. What also helps is how understated Barrymore’s turn is – not only because it means that when she does ever break down it’s doubly impactive given its rarity, but because she’s the entry point into this world and represents the viewer – so her distinct lack of melodrama extends to us, as we approach the situation in a pragmatic way, just as she does.

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That’s not to say you won’t cry though, Miss You Already being a film that tugs tirelessly at the heartstrings throughout. It is a little contrived in its juxtaposition between happy and sad with the protagonist’s respective positions in life, one potentially departing and one hoping to bring someone new into the world – but Hardwicke should still be commended for tackling themes seldom seen in cinema, as we study how certain implications of the treatment affects Milly’s sexual confidence – something that nobody would ever discuss necessarily, but something people do have to go through.

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