Me Without You (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner23/11/2001

Three out of five stars
Running time: 107 mins

Next-door-neighbours and childhood friends Holly and Marina make a pact in the summer of 1973 to be best friends forever, by writing ‘Harina’ (a combination of their names) on a piece of paper and burying it in a bottle in the fishpond.

Thereafter, Me Without You picks up their lives at various intervals throughout the next two decades as their friendship goes through various different trials and tribulations.

Anna Friel (who may finally have found a decent film role) plays Marina, the manipulative and jealous one, and Michelle Williams (Jen from Dawson’s Creek) plays Holly, the studious, rather sensitive one with a crush on Marina's older brother Nat (Oliver Milburn). These scenes are handled particularly well, as anyone who’s ever fancied a friend’s brother or sister will attest.

There are also some nice scenes early on where it's made clear that each of them envies the other's life.

Holly, having been told by her mother that "some people are pretty and some people are clever", envies Marina’s beauty, as well as her seemingly glamorous and exciting mother (Trudie Styler), whereas Marina, whose mother is, in reality a drug-addicted croupier and whose father has long since done a runner, envies the stability of Holly’s loving parents and home life.

The film then follows them through all the usual coming-of-age stuff, including a spectacularly awful party, where they get both sex and drugs out of the way in one go, and where Holly infuriates Marina by sleeping with her brother. ("At least I tried heroin", Marina snipes later).

After that, we pick them up at university, where they both sleep with Kyle MacLachlan’s seedy lecturer, before moving into later life and drifting further apart.

The acting is excellent. Friel has the tougher role, because Marina is, frankly, a hateful messed-up bitch for most of the film, but she still manages to make you care for her by the end.

Williams is the standout, though, giving a quietly effective performance and nailing a decent English accent into the bargain.

There are lots of neat little scenes and moments in this (e.g. Friel smoking cigarettes with her feet, Williams silent longing for Milburn from her bedroom window) and it has a commendable commitment to onscreen nudity to boot, if you like that sort of thing.

The soundtrack is great, too, ensuring a sure-fire nostalgia-fest for people of A Certain Age. They do go a little overboard when it comes to Marina's clothes (Suzy Quatro one decade, Cyndi Lauper the next), especially as Holly seems to be stuck with the same green cardigan for 20 years, but on the whole, the period detail is impressive.

In short, then, this is well worth seeing. Goldbacher perfectly captures the intensity and competitiveness of tightly knit female friendships and she’s well served by two excellent performances by her two leads. Recommended.

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Me Without You (15)
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Content updated: 21/10/2017 07:37

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