THE FIRST FILM to ever make me cry (not counting wildlife documentaries) was Beaches. The latest from director Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen, Twilight) manages a close approximation of that weepy masterpiece with Miss You Already. Though it has its flaws, there's no denying that Hardwicke's done well here, both on an emotional level (I cried!) and as a feminist.
Already hits you right off with a cancer diagnosis: Milly (Toni Collette)—a dynamo PR woman with a successful record-producer husband, Kit (Dominic Cooper), and two kids—is suddenly felled by chemotherapy and hair loss. Along with Kit, her support network includes Jess (Drew Barrymore), her best friend since childhood.
Among the things Already gets right is the prominence of humor and sexuality in the life of someone gravely ill. Another is its unwillingness to gloss over or simply imply the grittiness of a mastectomy. That Milly is flawed—vain, selfish, a "cancer bully," as Jess calls her—only makes the reality of her circumstances more interesting and credible. It's noteworthy, if not ideal, to see the guys relegated here to being vaguely attractive and amiable: Cooper gets slightly more to play with than Paddy Considine, as Jess' partner, who's basically just a sensitive yes man (but manly! Oil rig worker!). whose most eyebrow-raising moment is a deafeningly loud jacket he inexplicably wears in a party scene.
Where Already goes wrong begins with the soundtrack, which comes whooshing in with douche-ad pop ballads to serve as a wry reminder that this is, after all, only a film—a film that has its cringingly hokey moments as well as its devastatingly human ones.
All might have been lost without Collette's incredible performance, but with it you'll be hard-pressed to fight back the tears. It's certainly the best Beaches since Beaches, and I'm inclined to call that a win.