A movie that is essentially Beaches for the post-boomers, or Steel Magnolias for gen X, Miss You Already is a chick-flick that never breaks the rules: but it certainly challenges the self-sacrificing acts that border on literal martyrdom, and perpetual positivity that we seem to expect from leading female characters in the face of all adversity.
Introducing us to the rock-solid sisterhood between two very different women, Miss You Already covers the characters’ backstories with a breakneck yet charmingly self-aware montage at the beginning of the film. We see Jess (Drew Barrymore) and Milly’s (Toni Collette) friendship evolve through childhood; through terribly-behaved teenaged years; through boozy and fancy-free twenties; and into bona fide and somewhat unexpected adulthood.
Now in their late thirties, Milly is a successful, hilariously self-obsessed PR manager with all of London’s elite at her well-heeled feet, while Jess is a kind-hearted, charity-working optimist with saving the world at the top of her list. The two talented leads are so convincing as this opposites-attract duo that it’s easy to become invested in their friendship; Barrymore radiates self-effacing humour and comfortable warmth, countering Colette’s steely, regal and sexually charged powerhouse performance. A pervading air of British bohemia creates microcosms of atmosphere that reflect both the characters perfectly; Milly inhabits sprawling industrial-chic terrace house, while Jess calls a quirky houseboat with myriad throw cushions home.
The fact that both of these women “have it made” in their own unique way is rocked to the core when Milly is diagnosed with breast cancer, and Jess finally falls pregnant with her first child. Milly’s bad-boy rock star husband turned world’s best dad to their two young children, Kit (Dominic Cooper), is shell-shocked as he watches his once vivacious wife fade away before him. In fact, Jess seems better able to deal with the brutal realities of Milly’s disease than Kit; and this, in turn, leaves both Kit and Jess’s husband, the heroically sweet Jago (Paddy Considine), feeling maligned and frustrated at their perceived inability to reach their wives.
Female camaraderie is pushed to the forefront here; the bond between these two women is just as enduring as their relationships with their male partners, and that’s something that has been navigated in a far less tender way by cultural phenomena such as Sex and The City and Girls. Love comes in different forms, and while it’s obvious that both Jess and Milly have found their soulmates with their respective husbands, the unconditional, unbreakable friendship between this pair is what truly makes this a love story.
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Running Time: 112 minutes
Words by Kate Bethune | Images by Variety and Ace Showbiz