LIFE WITHOUT ME
Polley .... Ann
Scott Speedman .... Don
Deborah Harry .... Ann's Mother
Mark Ruffalo .... Lee
Leonor Watling .... Ann
Amanda Plummer .... Laurie
Julian Richings .... Dr. Thompson
Maria de Medeiros .... Hairdresser
Jessica Amlee .... Penny Kenya
Jo Kennedy .... Patsy
Alfred Molina .... Ann's Father
Sonja Bennett .... Sarah
There is a
chemical reaction that takes place sometimes between the punter and
the movie title. I cant explain it, but some titles have a compulsion
to them and if this happens to you, as much as myself, you will also
avoid reviews about these films, if there are any at all. There are
tons of films out there that just dont find the audiences they
deserve. 'Welcome to Collingwood' for example. Why on earth wasnt
that a hit? So now I have learned to go and see one of these special
films in the first week because they disappear way too fast.
A good title and interesting cast seems to be a way to trust
the medium. A lot of actors on the way up find they do all their interesting
work in the early years. Steven Buscemi for example. Right now Scott
Speedman and Mark Ruffalo are hot and both are in this little Spanish
movie made in Canada.
So when I suggested My Life Without Me to Kit on
a rainy Saturday, she took one look at the poster and shook her head.
Too depressing. Trust me, it will be good.' I replied. I could
see she was thinking about all the other little films I have pressed
ganged her into seeing. Dirty pretty things though
well crafted, wasnt exactly feel good, for example, but the
wonderful Flower and Garnet was and so too were Whale
Rider and Spirited Away. 'Trust me, its
got Sarah Polley in it, Mark Ruffalo and Debbie Harry. It has to be
Mark Ruffalo (lee) watches Ann in the laundromat
course, some people may not get past the poster or the plotline.
A young woman of 23 with two pretty kids is told she has terminal
cancer and has just three months to live
Depressed? Dont be. This may be a film about a girl who got
pregnant too early by Scott Speedman and dropped out of High School,
it might look bleak that all she does now is clean University classrooms
instead of learning in them. It might look particularly horrid that
she has to live in a trailer behind her mothers house. The
mother who is bitter because her husband is in jail and she has
to bake cakes for a living. No matter.
Ann meets her neighbour
'Ann'- Leonor Watling
the end films are about people, humans living a life and even though
Ann, (Sarah Polley) is diagnosed with cancer, after the initial
shock she makes a list. Other people might go to pieces. She writes
a list. One item: Make someone fall in love with me - its
a selfish thing to want, but she has only ever known one man and
wants more, she also wants to find someone to love her kids as much
as she does and marry her husband when shes gone. She sits
down and literally plans a life to go on without her in it. Unoticed
by her, Lee (Mark Ruffalo) is nervously watching her and hoping
this is the girl for him.
not reveal more, but this is a curiously uplifting film that stays with
you long after you have seen it. Sarah Polley is astonishing as Ann,
Mark Ruffalo is so much more three-dimensional than in In the
Cut his other current release. Amanda Plummer is not as scary
as she used to be, thank god, and Debbie Harry is comforting with her
anger and indifference. The kids Peny and Patsy are wonderful. Scott
Speedman is a star now after 'Underworld' but is nicely boyish
and low-key here.
You dont know why Ann is so sweet, or accepting. There is nothing
in the family make-up to make her so, but she, as her husband tells
her, unsuspecting that she is terminally ill, never complains. No matter
how shitty their lives are, she never complains. Ann is a rare individual
and you fall for her, just as Mark Ruffalos character does. She
seems translucent and transparent with no deceit.
The Director Isabel Coixet has the backing of Pedro Almodovar as producer
on this and she is clearly working on a theme in her work. In 1996 she
directed Things I Never Told You in Spain. Working
in Vancouver must have been quite a change to her native Barcelona.
stands in for anytown, as ever; the rain is perhaps excessive, even
for the Pacific Coast, but as much as they try to make the city
seem depressing, it isnt and locations around False Creek
and New Westminster are used well. This is a blue-collar drama,
but it is also all heart with some wit and fine small performances
from the supporting cast. Alfred Molina makes a brief appearance
as the jailed father, but all in all, this is Sarah Polleys
film and she gives a performance of her life so far.
If this film comes to a cinema near you, do go, otherwise rent it
and dont forget the tissue box, youll need it.
Sarah Polley as Ann
Sam North November 2003
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