By Leslie C. Halpern
Set in London, this drama features two long-time best friends struggling with opposite ends of the spectrum. In her late 30s, Milly (Toni Collette) deals with her mortality when she develops an aggressive case of breast cancer, and Jess (Drew Barrymore) fears she may never be able to get pregnant and bring new life into the world.
Narrated through Jess’s flashback, the girls first meet in elementary school when her American family moves to England. They bond instantly and share secrets, first kisses, and many other experiences together. Milly, the wilder of the two, is a slave to trending fashion and her well-groomed appearance, and accidentally gets pregnant by a rocker (Dominic Cooper), who gives up his excesses to marry her and provide a stable life for her and their children.
A Solid Friendship
Working in the public relations field, Milly remains a superficial party girl, balanced by Jess’s rather humdrum lifestyle of sharing a modest houseboat with her boyfriend (Paddy Considine), an oil rig worker. While the basis of their friendship may be hard to fathom – the women, their men, and their lifestyles differ completely – the friendship remains solid.
When Milly learns she has breast cancer, she seems more concerned about losing her hair from the treatments than possibly losing her life from the illness. Later, when her doctor says she needs a double mastectomy, Milly’s concern again seems more focused on losing her sex appeal than her general health. While a sympathetic character because of what she endures, she’s definitely flawed and the disease brings out the worst, and eventually, the best in her.
Loyalty Has Its Limits
Jess stays loyal to her friend, holding her hand during cancer treatments and emptying bowls of vomit. Milly’s husband also proves himself to be protective and loving – even when Milly is difficult to love because of her angry episodes. Loyalty has its limits, however, and those are tested when events turn even uglier (one of the movie’s secrets not revealed by the title or trailer).
Collette provides an amazing performance of a woman who slowly loses all that’s important to her. Brash, brittle, and believable, the actress transforms herself repeatedly in the role – from glamorous wild child to dying cancer patient. Barrymore supports her thoroughly as the strong, loving friend who foregoes diplomacy for honesty in most circumstances.
Though the film certainly has the potential to turn weepy and melodramatic, director Catherine Hardwicke encourages the humor and humanity in every situation. While viewers may not escape the theater without shedding a few tears, one tissue likely will suffice.
Miss You Already
- Two women, who have been friends since childhood, face their medical challenges together.
- Stars: Drew Barrymore, Toni Collette, Dominic Cooper, Paddy Considine, Jacqueline Bisset, Tyson Ritter
- Director: Catherine Hardwicke
- Writer: Morwenna Banks
- Genre: Drama
- Run Time: 112 minutes
- MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for thematic content, sexual material, and some language)