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Review: My Life Without Me (**)
MY LIFE WITHOUT ME
A film review by Steve Rhodes
Copyright 2003 Steve Rhodes
RATING (0 TO ****): **
MY LIFE WITHOUT ME is the type of picture that will leave you scratching
your head and wondering why it didn't touch you. A tragic story about Ann,
a 23-year-old mother who is suddenly diagnosed with terminal cancer so
severe that she has only "two months to live, maybe three," it stars the
normally effective Sarah Polley (THE SWEET HEREAFTER) as Ann. Seeming
detached from her part and just going through the motions of the acting,
Polley leaves it to a superb supporting cast to carry the film, and they
could probably have pulled it off if the story itself didn't have so many
parts that don't quite ring true.
Ann, a university janitor who works the nightshift, lives in a poorly heated
trailer that is permanently parked in her mother's backyard. Deborah Harry
plays her mother, who works a menial job at a commercial bakery. Ann has
two sweet young daughters and a lovely, affectionate and supportive husband,
Don (Scott Speedman). Don, who looks like a surfer hunk, was unemployed but
has just found a swimming pool construction job, which should last at least
a year. They were a happy family and still are, except for Ann's illness
which she decides never to reveal to them. (In one of the movie's best
performances, Julian Richings brilliantly portrays her new physician, Dr.
Thompson, who has trouble looking a terminally ill patient in the eye.)
Shortly after being diagnosed with cancer, Ann makes a list (as in Don
McKellar's LAST NIGHT) of the things she wants to do before she dies. These
include: seeing her father who has spent the last ten years in some unknown
prison, making tapes for her girls' birthdays until they are eighteen and
having an affair. She chooses Lee (Mark Ruffalo, YOU CAN COUNT ON ME), a
guy whom she meets at the Ticky Poo Laundromat as the lucky lad. This is
one of the many problems with the plot since she has no real passion for
him, and, given her near perfect husband, it's never quite believable that
she'd want to start an affair at this point in her life anyway. Still, with
his nervous and touchingly awkward rendition of a painfully shy guy, Ruffalo
makes the movie almost worth seeing for his performance alone. Almost.
MY LIFE WITHOUT ME runs 1:46. It is rated R for "language" and would be
acceptable for teenagers.
The film opens nationwide in the United States on Friday, October 10, 2003.
In the Silicon Valley, it will be showing at the Camera Cinemas.
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