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Me Without You
Directed by: Sandra Goldbacher 
Written by: Sandra Goldbacher, Laurence Coriat 
Starring: Michelle Williams, Anna Friel, Oliver Milburn, Kyle MacLachlan 
Language: English
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something: nostalgic 
The critic says: / 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: /5 

Plot synopsis Holly and Marina are best friends, the sort of best friends who are so close that it's hard for anyone else to break through into their shared little universe, for anything more than a strange, brief visit, anyway. Their relationship is clearly-defined at an early age: Holly's the brainy, quiet, rock-solid-reliable sweetie who never quite expects anyone to notice anything she does; Marina's the gorgeous, showy, high-maintenance diva around whom the whole world, especially Holly, revolves. As kids living next door to one another, they sign a solemn pact to stay a unit for always and ever -- they even make up a name for themselves by eliding their two names into one -- seal the document in a bottle and send it to the bottom of a little artificial pond in Marina's backyard. Through the punk rock late 70s of their teens, onto the new wave 80s of their college years and well beyond, Holly and Marina stick stubbornly together-- bad hair, bad clothes, bad men, and all. They go after the same cute (though as it turns out, thoroughly slimy) American tutor at university; they come to blows time and time again, as Holly and Marina's adorable older brother Nat do a constant but ever-inconclusive dance towards finally getting it together and just, well, getting together. In the end, though, it always comes back to being just the two of them: Holly and Marina, together forever. But as Holly begins to come into her own, and discover that in her own way, she's just as beautiful, sexy, strong and appealing as her more obvious best friend (whose brazen outward confidence is just a façade to hide how desperately, emotionally needy she is at heart), the two girls find that though their relationship hasn't changed, as individuals, they're clearly heading in different directions. Soon, a friendship that never felt quite equal to Holly anyway begins to feel like a prison, as she finds herself unable to move forward in her life, without Marina constantly manipulating her back into their familiar, old, and increasingly unhealthy patterns.

Review Movies claiming to be about the deep and complex bonds between women have a tendency to make me want to vomit. (Think Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.) There are way too many bad chick-bonding flicks out there … and yet, I can't quite bring myself to just stay away from them, because when the rare one emerges as being actually, well, not totally nausea-inducingly saccharine, I'm hooked. I'm a girl, after all, and it never ceases to make me happy when a movie really gets what it's like to be one. Me Without You is one chick flick that feels like it really knows what it's talking about. There's a genuine chemistry between the two lead actresses; you totally buy them as tight-knit but dysfunctional best friends, and both Michelle Williams (yup, that's Jen from Dawson's Creek -- she's astoundingly good here, for the most part even pulling off the British accent) and Anna Friel, as Holly and Marina, respectively, do a fine job bringing each character to life. The costumes, the music (the soundtrack's so chock full of great 70s punk and 80s new wave songs that I couldn't get the tunes out of my head for days), and the dreamy-lush fuzzy nostalgia evoked in the film are all wonderful, but ultimately, it's the relationship between the characters that's so compelling. Holly's such a lovely and amazing person that it's frustrating to watch herself let Marina eat away at her self-esteem; why, you have to ask, does Holly put up with such a toxic presence? But the thing about Marina is that she's one of those people who seems larger-than-life: she does everything big, and loud, with style galore, and when she walks into a room it's like all the light in the room is suddenly focused on her alone. So when she loves you, you're bathing in all that light too, and you feel like you're the most important person in the world. And when she's mad at you, it can be awfully dark and cold and lonely. Maybe you're lucky enough never to have been sucked into a relationship like that, but for anyone else, Me Without You is sure to ring true. —reviewed by Yee-Fan Sun

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