Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My Life Without Me

The story of this independent film might sound cheesy, but this film one of the most beautiful films ever made. In fact, just like a good TV series, My Life Without Me is a character-driven film. As a result of that, the movie's effectiveness mostly comes from the well-chosen cast's performance. Nonetheless, while this film about the very signification of life is appreciable, it has some irksome flaws in the storyline.

Based on Nanci Kincaid's short story Pretending the Bed Is a Raft, the story follows Ann (Sarah Polley), a young mother in her twenties who has two daughters. Ann also lives in a trailer (located behind her mother's house) with her unemployed husband (Scott Speedman) and has no aspirations. On one day, Ann is diagnosed with endometrial cancer and told that she's only got two months left to live. Deciding not to tell anyone about her condition and under the cover of anaemia, Ann strives to live her life with a passion she never had before based on what she wrote down on a to-do list.

Although My Life Without Me is a must-see film, it's biggest flaw is its slow pace in the middle of the story. After we learn about Ann's diagnosis, the film often explores insignificant aspects of her life. Moreover, director/scriptwriter Isabel Coixet gives attention to some characters who are not useful for the exploration of the film's premise in the likes of a waitress who wants to have a plastic surgery. Had this character not been given a line to say, the film could have been trimmed for the audience's sake.

Hopefully, as the film advances, Coixet's script proposes a rather interesting character study through Ann. We're left with a character (Ann) who ultimately discovers how insignificant her life has been up until she learns that she's left with a short time to live. As the movie unfolds not only does Coixet's script manages to show how Ann injects passion in the last moments of her life, but also how she wants her relatives to live happily. Hence, the reasons why she never mentions to her relatives that she's going to die and also why she still want her relatives to feel her presence after she passes away.

Such nuances make the characters so interesting and the cast credible. However, of all the members of the cast, Sarah Polley (The Sweet Hereafter) dominates. Besides, not only she proves that she's not just one of the best Canadian actresses (both official languages put together), but also one of the best actresses in the world. Without being too explicit in her display of emotions at times, Polley is skillful in showing subtlety.

Rating: 4/5

My Life Without me
Canada/Spain (2003)
Length: 106 minutes
Genre: Drama
Screenplay: Isabel Coixet
Director: Isabel Coixet
Starring: Sarah Polley, Scott Speedman, Mark Ruffalo and Deborah Harry

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