Few childhood friendships survive adolescence, much less adulthood. Deep down, we know this & tiptoe out of the lives of people we couldn't imagine never seeing again. Now & again, we DO see them & keep the chatter friendly & deliberately light. Movies, which usually wear out their welcome after two hours, often place undue emphasis on the notion of forever. How long can forever be in a universe that only lasts 107 minutes? In the case of "Me Without You," Marina & Holly have been best buds since they were tiny little girls in 1973. After one brief glance of the pair as kids, we flash forward to meet Anna Friel, 26, as Marina, & Michelle Williams, 22, as Holly. Although they're still close, we see the erosive silent bargain they have made to retain their friendship. Marina does whatever the hell she wants, consequences be damned, while Holly, feeling ugly & unsuccessful next to her much flashier friend, retreats deeper & deeper into herself. A heart-to-heart talk at this early juncture might have helped them salvage what they saw in each other as kids, but most likely not. Instead, they hang on for old time's sake.
Independently, each has an affair with slimy Daniel, a 40ish married college lecturer, played to the hilt by Kyle MacLachlan. Naturally, he says whatever will get him laid the fastest. It all evolves into hurt feelings between the girls while a guilt-free Daniel goes on to pursue other naive students. Marina becomes hedonistic by moonlight & jaded by daylight. With considerable effort, Holly sucks everything inside & their friendship becomes fragile & brittle, fracturing easily with misunderstood words, looks & gestures. Friel, who is something of a Brit institution for playing Beth Jordache on the soap opera "Brookside," drew her usual good notices when "Me Without You" opened in the U.K.
Once again, Williams as Holly was the surprise, though to me it's a stunner why she continues to surprise audiences with her very real talent. Her winning performance as Arlene Lorenzo opposite Kirsten Dust as Betsy Jobs in "Dick" was the key reason I bought the video. (Take my word for it, movie reviewers rarely shell out cold hard cash for ANY entertainment without an extremely compelling reason: for me the great comedic interplay between Williams & Dunst was it!) Arlene Lorenzo is a spiritual sibling of Holly, but with a much stronger security net. Holly's introspection is her only line of defense, without it, she would drown in the flood of Marina's self-destructiveness. Aside from the lead performances, "Me Without You" is otherwise a washout. Sandra Goldbacher's screenplay & direction lack the strength & clarity revealed in her ground breaking film debut, "The Governess." The soundtrack, which is supposed to take us from 1973 to the present, includes Sonny & Cher's "I've Got You Babe" from 1965 & I can't imagine Marina or Holly ever listening to that. The rest is Beethoven, Mozart, Verdi, The Clash, Scritti Politti, Adam Ant, Depeche Mode & the gloppy Charleen hit from 1982, "I've Never Been To Me," suitable only for drag queens. Do Marina & Holly age an eyelash over the years? They do not. Next to the excremental "Harvard Man" from James Toback, which I also had the misfortune to watch over the weekend, "Me Without You" is pretty terrible, but not THAT terrible. All by its own self, "Me Without You" is...well...still TERRIBLE!!!
© 2002 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 7/17/02
Me Without You
USA - 2001