Are they re­ally good friends?

Rutherglen Reformer - - The Ticket -

The year was 2008. Hot on the heels of a promis­ing start to her di­rec­to­rial ca­reer (Thir­teen, Lords of Dogtown), Cather­ine Hard­wicke launched the fran­chise jug­ger­naut that was the Twi­light Saga onto the movie world.

That in­ex­pli­ca­bly pop­u­lar mess may have filled the stu­dio’s cof­fers, but her­alded a se­vere nose­dive in Hard­wicke’s ca­reer, cul­mi­nat­ing in the ris­i­ble Red Rid­ing Hood and Plush.

The Texan hops onto the come­back trail with a “dram­edy” star­ring two safe pairs of hands. That’s not bad ... not bad at all but just not as good as the re­cent sim­i­larly-themed Me and Earl and the Dy­ing Girl.

Drew Bar­ry­more ( Jess) and Toni Col­lette (Milly) play long-term friends whose close bond is put to the test when Milly is di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer and Jess plans to start a fam­ily.

As re­li­able as Bar­ry­more and Col­lette are, they cre­ate Miss You Al­ready’s big­gest prob­lem: they just don’t con­vince as friends to the end.

In­di­vid­u­ally, their per­for­mances are good. As you would ex­pect, Col­lette is given more meaty ma­te­rial to work with and though Milly is stricken by ill­ness, the for­mer Sixth Sense star never al­lows her char­ac­ter to get bogged down in sen­ti­men­tal­ity.

Milly is a flawed hu­man be­ing who doesn’t de­mand your pity, even re­ferred to at one point as a “can­cer bully”.

This al­lows Bar­ry­more to come across as a more sym­pa­thetic fig­ure as Jess tries her best to sup­port Milly with­out pan­der­ing to her predica­ment.

Tal­ented Brits Do­minic Cooper (Kit) and Paddy Con­si­dine ( Jago) are more than just win­dow dress­ing as the two women’s part­ners who of­ten get caught up in the im­pend­ing storm.

English­woman Mor­wenna Banks makes the leap from tele­vi­sion writ­ing (The An­nounce­ment, Play­house Presents) to pen her first big screen ef­fort and her cin­e­matic in­ex­pe­ri­ence shows as her screen­play ven­tures into TV weepie of the week ter­ri­tory on more than one oc­ca­sion.

But she de­serves credit for not al­ways tak­ing the ob­vi­ous route to the end of Jess and Milly’s jour­neys – and pep­per­ing the film with comedic scenes to en­sure it’s not all doom and gloom.

The high­light is the lead pair’s nos­tal­gic trip to the York­shire Moors that’s an ex­am­ple of dram­edy at its very best, punc­tu­ated by an ex­cel­lent choice of song on the sound­track.

You’ll dive into your packet of han­kies come the cli­max but, like the afore­men­tioned Me and Earl..., it’s han­dled well in more ten­der than syrupy fash­ion.

At a time when gen­der equal­ity is a hot topic in Hol­ly­wood, it’s re­fresh­ing to see a film that is head­lined, di­rected and writ­ten by women, and the quar­tet do some de­cent work.

It’s just a shame about the wonky cen­tral re­la­tion­ship and story mis­steps.

Friendly ban­ter Col­lette and Bar­ry­more have fun

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