Miss You Already

Posted by Joel Copling on November 6, 2015

Exactly when and where it counts, "Miss You Already" compromises, and it's a fatal mistake. That doesn't, thankfully, extend to the central premise of a woman dying and her best friend acting as caregiver, but it does apply to the distractions that surround this premise. It's anchored by two lovely performances from actresses who build a certain amount of empathy for the characters they play before the other shoe drops. The final twenty minutes is what undoes a lot of good will in Morwenna Banks's screenplay, present a formulaic way to reach a crucial but trivial falling-out and a random jump in time that unfortunately loses focuses on the heart of the story.

Until this point, the film does a sturdy job of examining this friendship. Anyone with this kind of connection with another person will immediately see that Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette evince a heck of a lot of chemistry as (to put it Anne Shirley's terms) bosom friends of the traditional variety. Jess (Barrymore) and Milly (Collette) have been friends since the former was moved to the United Kingdom as a young girl. They connected immediately and have subsequently gone through literally everything at each other's side (including an amusing montage that shows them having their first kisses at the same time and by the same boy). That changes when Milly is diagnosed with breast cancer.

She doesn't immediately tell Jess but instead waits until the day before chemotherapy is set to begin. A positive thing is how Milly outwardly approaches her illness as an inconvenience and nothing more, although the trickiest part of Collette's perceptive performance is the fear behind her eyes. After she cheats on her husband Kit (Dominic Cooper) with a young and attractive bartender (Tyson Ritter) who believes she's beautiful even after a double mastectomy, her blow-up is understandable: She's simply frightened of mortality. Her mother Miranda (Jacqueline Bisset) wasn't present for a lot of her childhood and the film also has an understanding of her guilt.

The hurdle, then, that Banks and director Catherine Hardwicke cannot quite jump is the major subplot involving Jess and her husband Jago's (Paddy Considine) mission to have children despite infertility. Treatments are successful, but the film contrives a method of entering a third act that simply doesn't play fair. We're given a bit of shocking news and given no time to digest it before the machinations of the story drives a wedge between two characters for a period of time we don't see. "Miss You Already" almost sticks the landing with a certain inevitable outcome and a focus on the performance behind it, but there's simply too much contrivance to get us to that point for it to work as well as it intends to.

Film Information

Drew Barrymore (Jess), Toni Collette (Milly), Dominic Cooper (Kit), Jacqueline Bisset (Miranda), Paddy Considine (Jago), Tyson Ritter (Ace), Mehmet Ferda (Ahmed), Janice Acquah (Nisha), Honor Kneafsay (Scarlett).

Directed by Catherine Hardwicke and written by Morwenna Banks.

Rated PG-13 (thematic content, sexual material, language).

112 minutes.

Released in select cities on November 6, 2015.