Each month, Good Times' resident film critic, Sarah Smyth, chooses a hotly anticipated film for our readers. For September, she picks comedy drama, Miss You Already.
Is there anything stronger, more complicated and yet more beautifully intense than female friendships? The great on-screen advocate of female friendships, Sex and the City, unabashedly celebrates these relationships, championing them as the great love affairs of our lives. Yet, despite the significance of these relationships to half the population of the world, they rarely receive screen time. In fact, the number of films that pass the Bechdel test, a test that requires a film to have at least two named female characters who discuss something other than a man, is dropping. This is something which comedy drama, Miss You Already, hopes to fix.
Miss You Already centres on two women, Millie and Jess, played by Toni Collette and Drew Barrymore respectively, as their friendship faces new challenges in the wake of significant life changes. Millie is diagnosed with cancer, devastating the lives of her husband, played by Dominic Cooper, and her children. Meanwhile, Jess becomes pregnant with a much longed for baby. The film makes clear that the friendship between these two women is intense. They share a jokey and familial relationship; they’ve been on wild holidays together; they share secrets, ambitions and aspirations. Yet their friendship is tested by the paths their lives are forced to take.
The female driven narrative is not the only thing worth celebrating in Miss You Already, although this shouldn’t be underestimated. Only 12% of the top grossing films of 2014 starred a female lead. It’s also unique in its depiction of a female friendship between older women. There are a healthy amount of films made about teenage friendships ranging from Ghost World to Mean Girls and Girl, Interrupted to The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. Yet films starring women over the age of 40 are harder to come by. Miss You Already helps rectify this, squarely situating the friendship within the challenges often faced by women of this age.
The film is also an off-screen achievement. Directed by Catherine Hardwicke, best know for directing Twilight and postmodern fairy tale fantasy, Red Riding Hood, Miss You Already helps rectify the shocking gender inequalities when it comes to film production. From 2009-2013, women directed 4.7% of studio films and 10% of industry films. In 2014, women directed only 7% of the top 250 grossing films in the USA. In order for more female narratives to be portrayed on screen, particularly in an honest and authentic way, it is essential that more women be championed as directors by the industry and by audiences.
Why it’s worth seeing: Miss You Already may not win any awards (although films about women have a tendency not to get nominated, but let’s not get into that). But prestige and critical acclaim should not overlook the fact that all female-driven films, whether on or off-screen, are worth celebrating. After all, men may come and go, but friendships are forever.
Have you seen it yet? Tell us more!
Sarah is our regular film blogger. Learn more about her here.