Walking into Miss You Already it’s hard not to want it to be great. So few films are released that can claim to star two women and even fewer that are also written and directed by women. For that alone I wanted Miss You Already to be classic.
On the surface, Miss You Already is a film about cancer. Toni Collette’s Milly is diagnosed with breast cancer and we watch how she and her family deal with it. However, it’s not really about that. As the film’s stars have been desperate to point out, it’s actually about relationships. On one hand the relationship between Milly and her husband, Kit (Dominic Cooper) and, on the other hand, the relationship between Jess (Drew Barrymore) and her husband Jago (Paddy Considine). Most importantly though, it’s about the relationship between Jess and Milly, one which has existed since they were tiny wee tots.
It’s a relationship that is both the film’s greatest strength and the biggest weakness. The two of them feel real, they have that effortless chemistry that comes from years of time in each others company and there are moments where being around them is brilliant fun. In particular a trip to get Milly a wig, where the two of them are joined by Frances de la Tour and Jacqueline Bisset, is a heartwarming exchange. However, the relationship is also incredibly frustrating. Collette’s Milly is just not that likable. Everything needs to revolve around her and even with her illness you quickly find yourself losing your patience. The fact that she is constantly dragging Jess away from the always brilliant Paddy Considine in order to indulge her whims, just adds to that anger.
Which is probably at least partly the point. The film doesn’t try and convince you that just because Milly has cancer she is a good person. In fact, as I’ve made clear, it does the exact opposite. She becomes worse after her diagnoses. In theory, that’s great. It’s a real depiction of a horrible disease and that should be applauded.
Sadly though, the film just feels a bit too pedestrian. There is a great film to be made out of the realities of being diagnosed and suffering from cancer and I’m not sure this is it. This is where putting the aforementioned relationship in the centre of the film becomes a problem. You constantly feel like Jess and Milly’s relationship is more important than Milly’s with her family and if you really want to look at the effects of cancer the sidelining of her children feels a problem.
Miss You Already made me cry and it made me laugh and in that sense it achieved its goals. However, you can’t help but feel it could have been so much more. It sits somewhere between making serious points and light-hearted fun and ultimately ends up not achieving either to a high degree. Despite this, it should be celebrated and not just because it once again proves that women are more than capable of making films (although anyone that still needs that proven to them is a moron). It should be celebrated because it is brave enough to show cancer in a realistic light and even if it doesn’t go far enough for me, it is a step in the right direction.