Female friendship fable Miss You Already presents itself as a sort of Beaches for the 21st century, announcing its tearjerking intentions right there in the title. The presence of actresses Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette also sweetens the pot. But in endeavoring to deliver buckets of tearful catharsis, the efforts of Miss You Already are so conspicuous and unabashed that it achieves only a strange sense of emotional detachment.
With impeccable directing from Catherine Hardwicke, we have to implicate the script, by Morwenna Banks, which wrings itself into a knot of tears and angst. The film follows lifelong best friends Jess (Barrymore) and Milly (Collette), during Milly's battle with cancer. As a child, American Jess was transplanted to London, where she befriended the sassy Milly and where they still reside. Jess lives aboard a houseboat with her partner Jago (Paddy Considine), while working at some undefined nonprofit that involves gardening. Their greatest struggle is that they don't qualify for free in-vitro fertilization treatments (oh, National Health Service of England!).
Where Jess is soft and grounded, Milly is wild and carefree, married to the young, hot rocker type Kit (Dominic Cooper). What was an unplanned pregnancy with a roadie turns into domestic bliss in a gorgeous home, with all the financial success one could want. It's a charmed life, until Milly is diagnosed with breast cancer. Her family and Jess devote themselves to her recovery, and she initially tries to keep up a brave face.
However, with each obstacle, Milly devolves into a grumpy, selfish jerk, lashing out at family and friends, acting out wildly, and turning inward. Her relationships teeter on the brink of collapse, she torpedoes her own birthday party and she flirts with a hunky bartender (Tyson Ritter).
Given the soapy material, Hardwick brings a wealth of dimension in her directing choices. Her camera takes high canted angles and travels into close-ups during intense emotional moments, adding an element of psychological thriller.
In the march to the end, Miss You Already grinds its gears through the late stages of cancer, following a predictable and cliché path. It relies more on tearjerking than truth-telling in weaving its story.