Because there are so few leading roles for women in film, when one comes along in which females are front and center, it’s something to be celebrated. Such is the case with Miss You Already, starring Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette.
Equally noteworthy is the fact that, although the two characters go through romantic ups and downs, the story does not focus on their relationship foibles but rather their strong bond of friendship. Unfortunately the film feels like a missed opportunity.
Jess (Barrymore) and Milly (Collette) have been inseparable since the day they met in grade school in England. An opening montage shows that Milly was always the more wild of the two, but somehow she wound up with a husband and children way before the steadier Jess.
The bulk of the film has the two women going through two very different types of struggles with which many women are all too familiar: breast cancer and infertility. Milly’s cancer diagnosis sends her careening back into her wilder ways, while Jess hides her infertility issues in order to not seem like she’s trying to overshadow Milly.
With two female stars, a female director (Catherine Hardwicke), and a female writer (Morwenna Banks), you’d expect authenticity in the portrayal of female friendship. But something seems off from the start.
Early attempts at showing how close the two women are only come off as forced. Consequently, more realistic scenes later don’t ring as true as they should because the film is making up for its missteps.
What the movie does get right is how disruptive health issues can be for the person afflicted and those around her. Both Milly and Jess make what could be considered poor choices, but unless you’ve gone through a similar situation, it’s difficult to judge them.
The film ultimately earns its emotional ending — but barely. Collette is the stronger of the two, mainly because Milly has the bigger arc. Barrymore’s role requires her to be little more than a solid friend and wife, which is a refreshing change for the actress.
Miss You Already may not be the most convincing study of female friendship ever put to film, but because it has little in the way of competition, it’s still worth a look.