Director Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight) said that she wanted to ensure that Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette bonded before shooting began. As she has done so often before, during pre-production she invited the actors to her home for several readings, and rehearsals, in hopes a relationship would bloom; one that would hopefully carry over to the big screen. Mission accomplished. In tear-jerker Miss You Already, that chemistry is evident from the get-go.
Lifelong friends, Barrymore and Collette endure life’s ups-and-downs, taking us on a satisfying and emotional rollercoaster. An opening montage rapidly tells the backstory of their early partying ways, in one short, frenetic scene as groupies carrying on backstage with band members, and later getting married, and settling down in London. Eventually one falls ill. The other is there for support, and wild adventures ensue, even taking us up to the gorgeous English moors.
Three things conspire to elevate Miss You Already above what you’d expect from a typical buddy movie.
First, and foremost, is Hardwicke’s direction. It’s as contemporary as ever. The camera is constantly in motion, and there’s a fluidity and grace to the cinematography, and yet the composition seems to break every basic filmmaking convention. Her confidence shines through in establishing an early rhythm, and never lets up until the inevitable finale.
Then there’s the script. Morwenna Banks’ deft skill at cutting humor keeps the dialog crackling. You know going in there’s going to be a sad bedside scene, followed by joy and/or heartbreak. Turning Collette into a “Cancer Bully” is a smart choice. We’re not sure what to think — is she justified in her actions?
Finally, the acting. Barrymore is, as expected, solid. Her performance is relaxed, and convincing. Collette is magnificent. It’s hard to imagine this is the same actress who also wowed in The Sixth Sense some sixteen years ago as a frumpy widow. She looks stunning — wigs are indeed her thing — and she steals almost every single scene.
I haven’t cried this much in a theater since Titanic.
I was fortunate to attend a screening of Miss You Already at the Mill Valley Film Festival. I can atest that I was not the only one (constantly) wiping back tears. Fair to say I haven’t cried this much in a theater since Titanic (1999). Yes, I’m that kind of guy. As I watched the crowd flow out of the Rafael Film Center, I was relieved to discover that I was not alone — the Kleenex was out in force. I suspect if cancer has stricken your family, you may have a tough time with this one.
— Loni Stark (@lonistark) October 11, 2015
Catherine Hardwicke, who is one of Hollywood’s most bankable female directors, was in attendance at the premiere where she received a special MVFF award. At the highly entertaining talkback she noted that at least two scenes in the film were shot on an iPhone — an alert audience member noticed one of them. She explained that they had essentially run out of memory cards (!). But she didn’t want to let the actors know she screwed up. Given they were in the moment and the lighting and set was all in place, they shot impromptu with an iPhone (hint: taxi).
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Some critics suggest that there’s nothing new with Miss You Already. Probably true. Still, the performances are wonderful, as is the aforementioned chemistry between the leads.