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By Sarah Ward
October 19, 2015

Miss You Already

An unabashed tear-jerker with two sparkling leads.
By Sarah Ward
October 19, 2015

In the guise of her character Jess, Drew Barrymore is crying when Miss You Already starts — and the audience likely will be when the film finishes. Tissues are necessary for what overwhelmingly and shamelessly qualifies as a weepie. Expect tears from a movie that knows how to wring them out of you. Expect to know that's exactly what it is trying to do, too.

Barrymore's American in London is the more down-to-earth life-long BFF of outlandish Brit Milly (Toni Collette), their friendship as firm as it is frenetic. They've been there for each other since meeting in primary school, but when Miss You Already opens, Jess is in labour and yearning for her pal before talking viewers through their shared history.

That colourful past takes a turn for the catastrophic when Milly is diagnosed with breast cancer, much to the distress of Jess; Milly's rock 'n' roll-roadie-turned-family-man husband, Kit (Dominic Cooper); and their two young children. At the same time, Jess is struggling with trying to get pregnant through fertility treatment with her partner Jago (Paddy Considine). As has constantly happened throughout their years of closeness, when it comes to life-changing drama, Milly's situation trumps her own.

If the combination of gal pals, a potentially terminal condition and baby craziness hasn't already given it away — and it should've — Miss You Already is solidly aiming for sometimes gently funny, often waterworks-inducing chick flick territory. That the film stems from the real-life experiences of actress and writer Morwenna Banks (perhaps best known for TV's Saxondale and Skins) helps ensure that its sentiment and depiction of illness doesn't feel fake, even if it comes on thick and paints by the numbers.

Indeed, director Catherine Hardwicke moves on from the teen-focused fare of Thirteen and the first Twilight film to offer up an account of the ups and downs of female friendship, with the latter prominent when trouble and tragedy strikes. Her approach is brightly shot to look like fondly Instagrammed memories, though it also barely lingers on anything but the obvious as it flits between Vine-like vignettes. Heartstrings are tugged across the usual moments — news both good and bad, hospital visits focused on life ending and beginning, a road trip to Yorkshire's Moors, and fights and fancy occasions among them — yet every new occurrence seems like the filmmaker is ticking off a checklist.

With no hunks in sight here, what the film boasts instead is chemistry between the two leads. The plot points might be routine, but the bond the talented duo of Barrymore and Collette cultivate comes across as authentic. In fact, none of the cast puts a foot wrong, including a brief but well-played appearance by iconic actress Jacqueline Bisset as Milly's TV star mother. They're Miss You Already's most effective element, other than using all the life, death, love, loyalty and friendship pressure points to manipulate salty moisture into streaming from your eyes.

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