Review: ‘Miss You Already’ tackles life’s comedy, drama

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Life and death, friendship, marriage, parenthood, aging, infidelity, cancer — “Miss You Already” takes on many of the Big Topics, handling them in a broad yet thoughtful, even-handed way.

A film with so many bold bullet points could easily turn maudlin or sentimental, but the sweet comedic drama manages to feel heartfelt without being cloying. That’s because of the current of authenticity between Toni Collette and Drew Barrymore, who play lifelong friends Milly and Jess. Their honest performances give the film a warmth that rises above some of its more labored moments.

Screenwriter Morwenna Banks, who based the film on her BBC radio play (which was based on her own experiences), brings a lived-in feel to the story and her characters. It follows Milly (Collette), a married mother of two in London who, early in the film, is diagnosed with breast cancer. Her best friend, Jess (Barrymore), who is married and trying to start a family, is there by her side during her treatments, and the film follows their friendship as they deal with life’s many turns.

Director Catherine Hardwicke (“Thirteen,” “Twilight”) increases the intimacy between the characters by using handheld cameras to document their interactions, and she understands the poetry of life is found in the small moments that make up the big ones.

Meanwhile, Collette and Barrymore (along with a fine supporting cast that includes Dominic Cooper, Paddy Considine, Jacqueline Bisset and Tyson Ritter) make the film breathe. People say there aren’t enough films made by women and about women, and that’s true. Well this is one, and it’s a damn good one.

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‘Miss You Already’

GRADE: B+

Rated PG-13: for thematic content, sexual material and some language

Running time: 112 minutes