Movie review: Miss You Already

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The title’s a dead (pardon the pun) giveaway of the movie’s premise: Someone’s going to die, run away and join some cult, or get abducted by aliens.

British-American dramedy Miss You Already wastes no time in showing you which it is: Spunky PR exec Milly (Toni Collette) is diagnosed with breast cancer at the prime of her life, just as her BFF, Jess (Drew Barrymore) discovers she’s finally pregnant after many failed attempts.

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Within the first 10 minutes, if not during the trailer, you get a Bride Wars kind of intro to what great childhood friends they are and we meet every character in the film, including the main antagonist – breast cancer – in a flurry of rushed introductions and flashbacks. It was almost like being at a party full of strangers, where the host whisks you around the room, barely giving you enough time to shake hands with someone before pushing someone else into your personal space. Dizzying, overwhelming, and, frankly, quite rude.

But somehow, this works to the film’s advantage. If not as a device to show you how precious time is for someone whose expiration date is almost up, by quickly getting all the formalities out of the way, Miss You Already allows itself ample time for the bulk of the story to develop. Front row seats to watch Milly’s degeneration brings you uncomfortably close to the ugliest side of cancer. Her once-passionate marriage with music mogul husband, Kit (Dominic Cooper), turns ice cold as she loses her hair and when he sees her mastectomy scars. Her friendship with Jess gets increasingly strained as Jess bends over backwards to cater to her every whim, in hopes of making life easier for Milly. Even the relationship between Jess and her oilrig worker partner, Jago (BAFTA award-winning British filmmaker and actor Paddy Considine), suffers as she puts her life with him on hold for Milly.

Despite having worked in showbiz for close to 30 years, the Australian Oscar-nominated actress, Collette, and one of Hollywood’s most recognized actresses since she was a child, Barrymore, have surprisingly never worked together. Miss You Already marks their first collaboration and the start of an off-screen friendship to last the ages. Reminiscent of Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey’s undeniable on-screen chemistry in Beaches (remember the Wind Beneath My Wings scene?), Collette and Barrymore embody a friendship that makes even husbands pale in comparison, thanks to a connection between the actresses that just came “so easy”, Collette tells The Morning Show in Australia.

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Director Catherine Hardwicke proves that she can still be ruthless (you know, even after directing the awful vampire romance, Twilight) in her no-holds-barred telling of a woman’s battle against the Big C. There’s no warning before the audience is faced with a close-up of a needle breaking skin, (“That is a big prick,” Milly jokes, as she often does, to defuse the situation) or before Milly peels the bandages off to see her mastectomy scars. It’s refreshing because mainstream films, unlike documentaries, don’t usually talk about breast cancer in a neutral, non-sexual manner. There’s no talk of ‘I love boobies!’ It puts the illness across respectfully and honestly.

While there’s a lot of pain physically and emotionally, Miss You Already, like 1998 Stepmom, shows that fun, adventure and even the healing of difficult relationships can also come as you face off a terminal illness. We’re treated to a tender scene where Milly patiently explains chemotherapy to her 2 young children using a cartoon, and another where her son playfully adds lumps on his gingerbread man to gift mom “some new bosoms”. You see the besties realising their teenage dream of visiting the moors from Wuthering Heights in a Sisterhood Of The Travelling Pants-esque sequence. You have Milly reconciling with her aged television star mum, Miranda (Jacqueline Bisset). In a terrifyingly realistic reflection of what may happen in real life, there can be some good to counter the bad.

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In that way, the film hits hard: it takes you on a journey that could well happen to anyone. Even if we don’t know the exact odds, it won’t be far from the 50-percent chance of getting a cancer diagnosis for anyone born after 1960 in the United Kingdom, according to Cancer Research UK.

Miss You Already does justice to the severity of the illness, giving almost as much airtime to the challenge of being the support circle and drawing a much-needed balance between the ups and downs, unlike other cancer-centric films that play up the drama and dilute the humanity of the characters and the reality of the situation (ahem, The Fault In Our Stars).

Buy a ticket and allow the film to reel you in and wash over you, but be sure to prepare some tissues and sunglasses that will hide traces of your tears, because you will ugly cry.


[xrr rating=4/5 display_as=textstars label=”Our Rating:”]



Release Date: 6 November 2015

Runtime: 112 minutes

Language: English

Rating: NC16

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Director: Catherine Hardwicke

Cast: Drew Barrymore, Toni Collette, Dominic Cooper, Paddy Considine, Tyson Ritter, Jacqueline Bisset