Miss You Already
If we’re being honest, the subjective response to any film is always the true one; art does not seek objectivity. Stories close to our own experience draw on and are sustained by deep emotional springs. Most of us, in some way, have been exposed to the ravages and despair brought about by cancer. Attacking more than just its victims’ bodies, it is a cruel disease that can shatter families and test long established relationships. Catherine Hardwicke, like Nancy Meyers, is not nearly so prolific as less talented blokey directors, but her observation of the invasive nature of the illness manages to be remarkably upbeat, even on occasions funny, while at the same time tugging hard on your heartstrings.
Milly (Toni Collette) is an extroverted, happily married mother of two with a bubbling career in PR. Jess (Drew Barrymore), her dear friend since childhood, lives on a London houseboat and, with partner Jago (Paddy Considine), has been trying, unsuccessfully, to have her first child. Everything changes when Milly is diagnosed with breast cancer. Hardwicke at no point dodges the awful realities of Milly’s condition and its psychological impact – the denial, the anger and resentment, the sickening side-effects of chemo. Both actresses are superb in demanding roles – the tenderness that engulfs the cinema when Milly exposes to Jess her post-op scars is testimony to their fine performances. Considine, his usual rough diamond, is also convincing as one who is sympathetic but concerned with his own priorities, Cooper expresses the bewilderment of unknowing, while special mention must be made of Honor Kneafsey. As Milly’s little girl Scarlett, she embodies our powerlessness in the face of uncaring fate when asking, ‘you’re not going to die, are you Mummy?’
The climactic birth scene, which is the best of its type since Truly, Madly, Deeply, resulted in sobbing all around me, so I felt not in the least bit embarrassed about going to water myself. If you are prepared to make the hike to Ballina you will be rewarded by one of the year’s outstanding movies.