Michelle Williams and Anna Friel star in this long existing story of best friends growing up in the London suburbs during the 1970s. Spanning three decades, Me Without You begins when Marina (Friel) and Holly (Williams) form an unlikely bond despite being polar opposites as teenagers. Marina is wild and free-spirited, while Holly is rather quiet and bookish. They say that opposites attract and such is the case with Marina and Holly, whose differences seem to complement one another and whose differences seem to serve as a coping skill from the boring suburbs while also allowing each of them to find a snese of identity with the other. Over the film's three decades, Marina and Holly's friendship endures hard drugs, random sex, manipulation, betrayal, and one very influential professor (Kyle MacLachlan).
It's always interesting to look at the history of a film. Such is the case with Me Without You, a film first reviewed by the late Roger Ebert in 2002 and yet a film now finding new life on DVD thanks to the folks at First Run Features.
It's a safe bet that the friendship between Marina and Holly will look familiar to anyone, male or female, who has ever had that tumultuous, challenging, and dramatic friendship that still managed to survive over the years.
Admit it. You've had one.
It's refreshing to have a film approach friendship, especially female friendship, from such a natural and authentic perspective complete with all its warts and strengths and weaknesses. While Me Without You may not be the most entertaining film you've ever seen on female friendship, it's certainly one of the more honest. It doesn't so much celebrate friendship as it honors the friendship journey in all its messiness.
Directed by Sandra Goldbacher from a script she wrote with Laurence Coriat, Me Without You was filmed over 10 years ago when Williams was still involved with Dawson's Creek and Hollywood was unaware just how well she could truly act. Thus, her superb performance here was a bit of a surprise when it surfaced in 2002 but now we just watch it and think to ourselves "There she goes again." The film portrays this friendship not just as friendship, but also as both a fiercely competitive relationship filled with sexual rivalry despite what would appear to be Marina's distinct advantage.
The two are friends, yet their friendship seems to mostly survive rather than thrive. In part, it survives on the basis of secrets left unrevealed and those messy differences that turn both into extensions of the other - this is most evident when they compete for the semi-affections of a young professor (MacLachlan). MacLachlan serves up such an immensely satisfying performance here that one can't help but lament the fact that it's been largely hidden all these years.
Me Without You is a refreshing, bold and thought-provoking film with a stellar performance by Williams and a script that embraces female friendship in a way seldom seen on the big screen. If you prefer your actresses to portray bold and strong women, then this lost gem given new life by First Run Features should be on your agenda.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic