While the theatrical poster for "Miss You Already" may look suspiciously like "The Fault in Our Stars," I can assure you the former is a much more pleasant and believable affair than the latter. Featuring two actresses that aren't always the first to come to consumers' minds for their wide-variety of roles and breezy charisma, unfairly so in my mind, Catherine Hardwicke's "Miss You Already," another film about the perils of terminal cancer on everyone from the patient to the family, manages to pull just enough strings with its solid cast and melodrama to make you forget it's occasionally pulling your heart strings.
The film follows two best friends, Milly (Toni Collette) and Jess (Drew Barrymore), who have been best friends ever since Jess and her family moved overseas to England when she was a young girl. They've been inseparable since, and even different circumstances plaguing one another - Milly with her husband Kit (Dominic Cooper) and their two young children and Jess with her husband Jago (Paddy Considine) trying to conceive a kid - they still manage to remain as close as they were when they were young.
Life's ultimate challenge hits them hard when Milly reveals she is suffering from potentially terminal cancer. As she undergoes chemotherapy and experiences all of cancer's hardships - weakness, hair loss, fatigue, and emptiness - she looks to her best friend Jess not only as a poll to lean on, but one to assist her and support her in her time of need.
At first, audience members can't help but feel bad for Milly; she seems like a well-meaning soul, one who at least didn't deserve this ugly fate. It isn't until her true colors come out during this fatal bout of sickness that we realize the kind of person she is. For starters, she loves to take advantage of Jess's kindness, to the point where Jago understandably lectures Jess about how Milly is making them "put their marriage on hold" while she attends to the needs of her best friend. Very seldom do we hear a "thank you" come from Milly or a sincere recognition of Jess's persistent kindness, like sitting beside her bed when she vomits or picking out a wig for her. On top of that, Milly also winds up cheating on Kip for a young bartender, which she justifies because Kip doesn't even look at her any more nor has any interest in having sex with her.
Screenwriter Morwenna Banks at least has Milly, herself, and Jess recognize her uglier traits in the film, which is more that could be said about other female characters in film this year that have exhibited seriously contemptible traits, like Amy Schumer's Amy in "Trainwreck" or even Cara Delevingne's Margot in "Paper Towns." If you can overlook how terrible Milly is as a person when her cancer begins to worsen, or at least can appreciate how the film doesn't sweep her more unlikable traits under the rug by supporting her feeble arguments and justifications for cheating, then "Miss You Already" becomes less an anti-character study, as I call them, and more an appreciation for find acting and melodrama.
As imperfect as this film is, it's a serious footnote for film right now because isn't this the kind of film audiences like to say they want? In the mix of a summer filled with blockbusters nine-figure budgets, Marvel franchises starting, rebooting, and continuing, and other bombastic nonsense, don't we hear a cry for adult dramas quite frequently? The end of 2015 has proved to deliver more than enough adult dramas to sustain a calendar year, effectively saturating the marketplace, which is a whole other issue, but this is precisely the kind of film I see people demanding but those same people forgetting to look at the local theater listings to see what is out this weekend. "Miss You Already" may not be a great film, but it's good enough to warrant a recommendation thanks to committed and thoroughly watchable chemistry from Collette and Barrymore, who show us throughout the film why we love watching them in movies. It's also another acceptable cancer drama in a way that doesn't evoke cheap pathos like "Freeheld," despite lacking the political conversation, at the same time doesn't effectively hit the more sentimental notes successfully like the soul-crushing "50/50" did in 2011.
"Miss You Already" is an enjoyable film that grounds itself in humanity and character relations long enough to distract and hinder the on-sight arrival of emotional manipulation. It's the kind of film, again, that we say we want, but rarely see; so in a crowded marketplace that will largely be stomped on by the likes of "Spectre," being seen by the parents, and "The Peanuts Movie," largely being seen by the kids, here's a low-key film that demands your attention just as well.
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