British comedian Morwenna Banks has written one of the year's best scripts, a bitterly funny tearjerker that sees cancer patients as full people: not just heroes, not just victims, but complicated human beings attempting to stand strong in a world that's turned to quicksand. Before her diagnosis, Toni Collette's Milly, an ex–party girl, sucked up all the oxygen in the room. Once she's ill, everyone who loves her is at risk of suffocation, especially childhood BFF Jess (Drew Barrymore), who's so wary of stealing Milly's spotlight that she's afraid to announce her own pregnancy.
Most cancer dramas pretend to find real truths in the face of death. Their sad saints go off to the grave embracing religion and family like a tidy parting gift. Miss You Already is slipperier. Milly, the daughter of a shallow actress (Jacqueline Bisset), is terrified of losing her sex appeal. Her mood depends on whether she can find a gorgeous wig or convince her husband to touch her after a double mastectomy. Her needs aren't noble, but they're human.
Milly and Jess's friendship is the foundation of the film, which is why it's rotten luck that the usually charming Barrymore comes across like a crumpled washcloth. Her jokes fall flat; her narration is tone-deaf. It's frustrating because Barrymore can do better -- and this screenplay deserves the best. Hardwicke has a hard-earned emotional intelligence about the complexity of female friendship. Milly has two children and a husband, relationships of permanence due to blood and paperwork. But her relationship with Jess is a daily choice, and I became so invested in it that I spent the last twenty minutes blubbering into my scarf.