The film has long since left our cinemas, butMiss You Already tells a story that lingers in our lives, in large part for its touching and bittersweet reality.
Starring Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette, there’s no doubt you would have caught an interview with them during their promotional tour earlier this year, but, wanting to know about the heart that went into this film, we took the opportunity to speak with its director, Catherine Hardwicke.
Hardwicke, whose name you might associate with young adult titles like Thirteen, Lords of Dogtown and Twilight, took the film on after deciding that yes, she did feel strongly about its tale.
“I’m constantly reading other peoples’ beautiful writing and you have to sleep on it and think, ‘okay, do I feel anything for these characters? Can I bring anything to this story? Am I the right director?’ Because as a director you’re spending probably about two years of your life devoted to the film so you’ve got to really care about it.”
Miss You Already is an honest and powerful story of two long-time best friends, Milly (Collette) and Jess (Barrymore), and their dealing with Milly’s cancer and the onslaught of relief-filled highs and desperate lows that tag along with the disease.
While the two lead characters are presumably aged in their late 30s or early 40s, they are representative of best friends in any age group, dealing with what is perhaps the most challenging prognosis: terminal cancer.
The women know each other’s idiosyncrasies and vices inside out, and there are no holds barred when a disease that is typically glorified by Hollywood draws out these personality flaws.
The film even deals with the idea of the “cancer bully”, a notion explored by Collette’s character, in which she essentially gives herself a “free pass” to do things she wouldn’t have otherwise done – cheat, for example.
“I think all ages, unfortunately, can relate to cancer,” 60-year-old Hardwicke said.
The film’s writer, Morwenna Banks, drew on her experiences with cancer – more specifically, three of her best friends’ experiences with the disease – to create Jess and Milly’s story.
Hardwicke, too, could relate to the script in that sense: she lost her father to cancer, and a friend much more recently.
“I definitely had to go through the exact situation with two friends but then recently, really recently, one of my friends went through the experience,” she explained.
“It’s tough, you’re never 100 per cent sure on the right thing to do – you want to keep them laughing and having the best fun they possibly can… it was a very intense experience for me.”
Working with Collette also proved to be an intense experience – in the best way (and how proud are we as Australians!)
“Toni is so good. Starting with Muriel’s Wedding and all the other projects she’s done, she’s versatile, she’s brave, she’s smart, she throws herself fearlessly into the roles, so I just thought, ‘wow, she would do a great job’,” Hardwicke explained.
“The wig shop scene is really intense. I mean for one thing Toni Collette actually shaved her head on camera. It’s such a level of realism and commitment that you really feel it for her and also I thought that scene was pretty funny, and also really heartbreaking too.
“I didn’t expect or even ask her to shave her head, but she just automatically said ‘I have to’.”
Hardwicke raved about both Collette and Barrymore’s ability to find humour in an otherwise morbid process – they did a “great job”.
And we couldn’t agree more – Miss You Already is available now on Digital, Blu-ray and DVD. You can watch the trailer below.