TIFF Review: Drew Barrymore & Toni Collette in Miss You Already
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Cancer, the toxic monster that not only attacks the body, but every relationship a person has. In this film it tests the strength of the lifelong friendship between Milly (Toni Collette) and Jess (Drew Barrymore), and these two have already been to hell and back with each other. Miss You Already, which premiered at TIFF and is set in London, shows the power of their bond after Milly learns she'll need a double mastectomy because her cancer is so invasive.
Milly's a superficial bitch, and she'll tell you too. She's afraid of looking "like a mutant," missing her children's milestones or having her hot rocker husband (Dominic Cooper) fall out of love with her or stop desiring her sexually. In Milly's mind, her best hope for survival isn't through medical care, but through Jess's friendship. After a series of Now and Then-esque time jumps and sentimental flashbacks, you see with detailed history how Milly and Jess have always been there for each other through all the "firsts." You learn it is Milly’s selfish whims and vanity that ultimately steer the friendship. But the two can barely survive without the other, even before illness struck. Throw in an unexpected life change for Jess herself while Milly is at her peak "cancer bully" and the tear levees completely break down.
Really, it's Beaches 2: More Badass Bitches, and it will make you sob at least once or twice. In fact, it's a movie that is so emotionally manipulative, gut-wrenching and self-aware that you're almost surprised Jess doesn't sing "The Wind Beneath My Wings" to Milly while she's undergoing treatment. Every time Jess looks at her longingly, she's basically asking "[if she] ever knew she was her hero?"
Instead, there's a different jukebox singalong. The song is REM's Losing My Religion, and the scene takes place while on a post-diagnosis drunken trip to the English countryside. Miss You Already makes you pray for Milly and Jess to live happily ever after, but you know it's probably not going to happen.
It's challenging to show the peaks and valleys of female friendship on-screen without a layer of cheese but Miss You Already pulls it off. Directed by Catherine Hardwicke, the movie is helped by her signature unflinchingly-real style. In The To-Do List, a female coming-of-age movie starring Aubrey Plaza and written and directed by Maggie Carey, there's a running gag about the group of friends getting together to watch Beaches and sob before they head off to their new lives in university. Miss You Already carries this same reflective power but leaves the sappiness behind, while maintaining this enduring love between two pals. Miss You Already comes out in November. Bring tissues.
Attached - Drew and Toni at the London premiere of the film last week and Drew at London Fashion Week.