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|Index||41 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is one of those movies where it's supposed to be like real life,
where stuff just sort of happens without the artifice of plot moving
things toward a conclusion, and it's a good example of both the
strengths and weaknesses of that style.
Me Without You is about two girls who live next door to each other in England. Holly (Michelle Williams) is the intellectual one and Marina (Anna Friel) is the wild one. It follows their lives from being children in 1973 to grown women in 2001 and how their close friendship degenerates into disturbing co-dependency.
The best things about this film are its smart observations of the rising and falling tides of life and how it lets the performers stretch themselves in the moment. The story recognizes that people flourish and languish at different times in their lives, that they aren't static or standing still. As a child, Holly is clearly the follower to Marina's leader but when they get to college, Marina is the directionless party girl while Holly is the one with her life in order. And as young adults, it is Holly who's stuck in a rut while Marina's life is moving forward. That also allows both actresses a chance to develop their characters into real people, establishing a core identity but also showing us how those people are both changed by time and circumstance, yet remain the same in fundamental good and bad ways. Without having to service a plot, the characters can develop an organic sense of realism.
But the real life stylings of the story also hamper the film. It's all well and good to create complex and intriguing characters, but then you have to do something with them. That's where the plot comes in, giving a sense of purpose and direction that doesn't usually exist in real life. It connects all the action and behavior together as it moves from beginning to conclusion. Movies like Me Without You consciously avoid linear, propulsive storytelling and they usually run into a problem as some point. In this movie, it comes as it shifts from Holly and Marina as college students to adults.
The film is able to rely on the natural events of growth and development from childhood to young adulthood to give the story some structure. That sort of self-evident direction doesn't exist as grown-ups, though. There aren't that many definable moments that flow from one to another in a coherent pattern. In Me Without You, that results in the film having to introduce a bunch of really arbitrary elements to Holly and Marina's lives, things that don't naturally flow from what we've seen of the characters up until then.
Another interesting thing about this film is how it demonstrates the difference between movie nudity in the American and British cinema. When someone gets naked in an American movie, there's almost always a purpose for it. It may be salacious and sleazy or it may have a genuine artistic point, but characters in American films get naked because someone wanted them to get naked at that point in the film. In British and European films, thought, nudity is often portrayed as though it were accidental or happenstance. The actors are naked just because they're in a situation where people would normally be naked and there's no effort made to cover up. They'll sit up in bed, the covers will slip down and whoops, there's a nipple! Whether that's a more enlightened approach to movie nudity is up to each viewer to decide for themselves.
Me Without You is one of those films that you'll enjoy if you buy into the characters and become invested in how their lives turn out. It asks for an emotional commitment from its audience. But if you just want to be entertained and not bothered by a movie, this probably isn't what you're looking for.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Me Without You" is one of those films that's difficult to watch not
because it's a terrible movie, but because it has the potential for
greatness in its content and ideas but the execution is mediocre.
Reading the plot description, I was hoping for the film to dive deep
into the chaos that can be female friendships, but instead, I found a
film too caught up in romantic subplots to really achieve this goal
that it clearly aspires to.
The film concerns Marina and Holly, two girls who grow up as neighbors and best friends. The film's episodic structure is separated into five different periods of the women's lives: childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, adult independence, and finally, motherhood. In the early periods, the two girls are inextricably bound, but their relationship suffers as a result of the insecurities of both characters leading to a power struggle between the friends.
Marina, the more outspoken and wild of the two, makes a strong first impression, but soon, it becomes clear that her dramatic exterior masks a weak identity. In contrast, Holly is the more subtle and passive friend, but at her core, she is principled, passionate and ambitious in a way that Marina obviously admires but cannot replicate (though she certainly tries).
These personality conflicts play out mostly through their relationships with men: Marina, for example, works to keep Holly from pursuing a relationship with her brother Nat, whom Holly has long adored. Also given much screen time is the sexual relationship that both girls simultaneously pursue with one of their professors. The triangulation causes drama with the ladies, further reinforcing their differences.
My favorite thing about the film is that it chooses to explore these complex issues. So few Hollywood films really delve deeply into complex, female relationships. This film examines the problematic tension between the friends, rather than sugarcoating their bond like the typical chick-flick.
What I disliked about the film was the execution and resolution. Rather than really focusing on the girls, their relationships with men are brought to the forefront. I would have liked to have seen other manifestations of these issues, rather than making men the catalysts for all the trouble. Furthermore, the resolution of the film is a bit weak. The women sever their ties, but little is told of how their break affects them. A whole movie could be written about the fallout of the break, and yet, the filmmakers leave it almost entirely up to the imagination.
Thanks to great performances, good subject-matter, and interesting cinematography, the film isn't a complete wash. I'd recommend it to any woman (which mean practically every woman) who has suffered the heart-ache of a dysfunctional friendship.
If you love stories about the relationship between women, this movie
will satisfy you in many ways. It spans decades of growing up, coming
of age, and finally becoming unique individuals who learn to define
themselves and accept themselves and each other. This is a rather
unsentimental movie that captures your heart in subtle ways. The
dialogue is fast and witty. The visuals are stunning and colorful. Both
women are fascinating. If you like movies like Beaches and Where the
Heart Is or even Entre Nous, and you like them because you fancy the
dynamics of female friendship, watch this. This is a modern-day
chick-flick. Rock star chick flick. It takes many chances and doesn't
have a tight message to the story. It remains mysterious and you are
merely a voyeur to this relationship. You are left to make your own
assumptions and draw your own opinion of what these two meant to each
Movies like this are rarely made.
I thought this film was very nice in some ways. The theme of two girls of a
very different temperament growing up together and discovering who they
really are against the backdrop of a metamorphosing London-life in the 80's
was intriguing. However, I thought the pacing of the film was often too
samey, with no really big 'tell all' scenes or, in the end, believable
catharsis for the protagonists. On the plus side, I thought the staging and
sets were excellent.
I would recommend anyone who enjoyed this film to watch French director, Martine Dugowson's, MINA TANNENBAUM - a film that covers similar territory, but perhaps is more sure of its intentions and has more dimensionality.
It must be so hard, being young and pretty. Especially when your best friend
is a pain in the arse.
This humourless, tedious affair has angst-ridden best friends Anna Friel and Michelle Williams growing up (or maybe not) and competing to see who can be the most miserable and self-absorbed sod on the planet.
In a vain attempt to hold the attention of any blokes unlucky enough to have to sit through this yawnsome bilge, both actresses expose their breasts a few times. At least Kyle MacLachlan has the decency to look uncomfortable for his part. "All we seem to do is argue and sulk" whines Williams towards the end. You don't say. Well feel free to bugger off and stop inflicting your misery on the rest of us.
Unless you fancy the stars, steer well clear.
A passable 90 minutes, but no great shakes; just about all you can expect
from British cinema in 2003.
The tale has been done a 100 times, and the plot is signposted two miles earlier. Still at least Friel remains a goddess.
5 out of 10
The film follows two friends from childhood to adulthood. It observes how the two make a pact to stay friends forever as children only to find that this friendship becomes a detriment as they get older.
This British made film seems very similar to the cult hit ANTONIA & JANE. That film dealt with the same theme but was much quicker paced, had a better sense of the absurd, and was all around more fresh and funny. This film takes more of a bare bones working class mentality of a Mike Leigh picture. Yet Leigh leaves more of a emotional impact and his characters always have interesting idiosyncracies about them.
This film doesn't have that and it gets kind of depressing. The characters seem to meet nothing but perpetual heartache and disillusionment. Having them receive a few more ups instead of a constant stream of downs might have made it a little less taxing to watch. The Miranda character especially seems like a poster child for tragic figures. Where is that droll British wit when you need it.
The moral of this story is how Miranda imprisons Holly with their 'friendship'. In many ways that is exactly the same thing this friendship does to the viewer. It becomes obvious after the first thirty minutes that these two have grown vastly separate personalities. There is nothing real to hold these two together and in real life they would have drifted apart much sooner and found other friends that would have fit more with their own individual interests. Keeping these two together seems done only for dramatical purposes. What is more is the fact that these girls do some really mean things to each other and no one in this picture displays any redeeming qualities or strength.
The film only seems to get interesting when it gets away from the girls friendship and focuses on the other characters. Holly's relationship with Miranda's older brother is actually much more interesting. The film might have done better had it broadened out from the beginning and shown how the evolution of life affects people in general.
It is amusing how in these films girls that are portrayed as 'plain janes' are still superior looking than the average women in real life. Here Holly is considered the 'unattractive' one and yet she still has a terrific figure and a cute face. In fact it is the supposedly enticing Miranda that seems more unattractive. She looks too made up and gaudy. Depending on her hairstyles she runs the gamut of looking like a poor man's Catherine Deneuve to a poor man's Shannon Doherty. What is worse is that by the end, particularly after a bad crying bout, she actually starts to resemble a poor man's Susan Tyrell.
The film is quite polished from a technical standpoint. There are moments of keen observations and the viewer can't help but think back to their own childhood friendships. It also has a real nice wrap up and a good music score. Unfortunately it tends to be unrelenting and has nothing to really make it distinctive. It also has a small ongoing stream of sensuality to it that seems forced and predictable.
I caught this on the movie channel last week and thought it would be a nice change. Although the music brought some nostalgic moments for me, especially the opening "Snowy White Horses", I found the story rather depressing. A lot was predictable and the destructive nature of Marina and the nasty way she thwarted Holly's potential relationship with Nat was hardly the actions of a best friend. THe acting was competent, but the story was substandard. WHile I understand the contrast drawn between the two families, I fail to understand why Holly's mother had to be portrayed as so pathetic - either she was a strong Jewish woman with no need to pander to modernity (her clothing was dreadful)and who valued ability over looks, or she was just inanely jealous of her more sparkling (but very nouveau riche) neighbours. Those houses were definitely 'des-res' in any decade. 5/10
"Me Without You" traces the lives and loves of two females (Friel & Williams) through 2-3 decades beginning in their teens. The girls are a study in contrasts. One's Jewish, the other gentile. One is cerebral, the other visceral. One is extroverted, the other introverted. One is the kind you take home to mommy, the other the kind you take home to daddy....etc. With no real plot, the film simply travels through time hitting all the obligatory benchmarks....first smoke, drink, drugs; first sex, love, breakup; first college course, job; etc. "Me Without You" will appeal most to those who can buy into the obviously manufactured characters and their seemingly endless growing pains. Can you say "chick flick"? (C+)
...a teen female. Otherwise, "Me Without You" is just an okay flick about the coming-of-age of two angst-ridden girls (Friel & Williams) over a decade or so exploring the usual female stuff...yada, yada, yada. The film doesn't manage anything new but the players delivery solid performances through an endless succession of situations obviously designed to create angst, woe, misery, and, of course, the ever popular (drum roll, please), ISSUES. Yes, this duo of contrasting female types have issues...boy, do they have issues! From beginning to end issues, issues and issues creating the urge to just grab them and shake them and shout in their faces like Joan Rivers..."GROW UP!!!". Recommended for less sophisticated female filmgoers. (B-)
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