Miss You Already should be the type of movie that restores your faith in the chick flick–yes, it’s a misogynist term, but remains applicable to the genre nonetheless. And yet, Catherine Hardwicke’s (best known for Thirteen, Lords of Dogtown and, later, Twilight) direction of two actresses that ought to be solid gold together, Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette, is somehow incredibly unfulfilling.
Perhaps centering the narrative around Milly’s (Collette) discovery that she has breast cancer was supposed to be screenwriter Morwenna Banks’ ace in the hole for securing audience empathy, and yet, we’re thrown so quickly into the concept of her having this sickness that we hardly have the chance to get to know her as anything more than “the friend with the disease,” let alone what her friendship with Jess (Barrymore) entails beyond the guilt she feels at being happy in her life while Milly suffers.
In fact, it’s hard to fathom what Jess really gets out of the relationship other than having a “liberated” friend who once saved her the embarrassment of being an American expatriate with a noticeable accent in elementary school. Regardless of a somewhat dubious rapport between the two, we go along for the ride, hoping that at some point we’re going to feel the emotions and connections we’re supposed to. Through Milly’s marriage to her “rocker” boyfriend, Kit (Dominic Cooper), and Jess’ later attachment to a do-gooder type named Jago (Paddy Considine), the two friends remain inseparable. Thus, when Milly finds out she has cancer and hesitates in telling Jess (though Jess is the first person she confesses to), the wound feels even greater.
At around this time, Jess and Jago (two names that sound like some sort of fable when paired together) decide to endure IVF treatments to have children, but Jess insists on putting off the attempt out of respect for Milly’s situation. Reaching his breaking point for how obsequious Jess is toward Milly, Jago finally gets her to move forward with their lives by getting a job on an oil rig so they can pay off the treatments. When the IVF proves successful, Jess can’t bring herself to tell Milly she’s having a baby. It doesn’t make it easier to tell her when Milly offers the latest news about her cancer: she must get a double mastectomy. Admitting to her vanity, and how important it is for her to be desired, Milly copes by getting drunk and hitting on a much younger bartender named Ace (Tyson Ritter, who, for some reason can’t just stick with All-American Rejects). Though Jess initially writes this off as depression-motivated folly, she’s horrified to learn that Milly is having an affair with him after they go to Yorkshire under the guise of paying homage to one of their favorite books as youths, Wuthering Heights.
It is here that she flashes her stomach to Milly to show off her pregnancy and then ends up falling on a rock after storming away, creating complications for her baby. But, of course, their co-dependency proves too strong to ignore for very long, and eventually the two come together again to give off the fair exchange of birth and death. In many ways, Miss You Already is a combination of the unhealthy female friendships displayed in Me Without You (another London-based film) and The Last Days of Disco–and, to be frank, Jacqueline Bisset is the most redeeming element of the movie.