Miss You Already, film review: Manipulative weepie will provoke an allergic reaction

(12A) Catherine Hardwicke, 112 mins. Starring: Toni Collette, Drew Barrymore, Dominic Cooper, Paddy Considine

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The Independent Culture

Catherine Hardwicke made her name as a director with Thirteen (2003), her hyper-energetic, frank, LA-set drama exploring the perils of a drug-fuelled female adolescence. Hardwicke approaches this London-based, cancer-themed buddy comedy/terminal illness melodrama in the same freewheeling way.

It seems to take its cue from its main character, the headstrong, restless Milly (Toni Collette). We see her from the perspective of her best friend Jess (Drew Barrymore), with whom she shares everything. Their relationship is so intense that it makes everything else in their lives (long-suffering husbands Dominic Cooper and Paddy Considine, careers, family) seem pallid by comparison. Morwenna Banks's screenplay is on the schematic side. One friend falls ill with cancer at the same time that the other is trying desperately to conceive a child.

Miss You Already isn't coy in the assault it makes on the audience's emotions. At preview screenings, packets of tissues were provided. The mawkishness is toe-curling but Collette's performance is bold. She relishes a role that makes extreme demands on her physically. Barrymore has to play the straight woman to her diva.

This is a weepie so wildly manipulative that it is bound to provoke an allergic reaction in many viewers. If it doesn't bring you out in hives (and perhaps even if it does), you may still admire the fearlessness with which the film-makers and their cast wade so deep into the treacle.

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