If you want to understand why Michelle Williams is a big deal, you need look no further than this, one of her earliest films. Her portrayal of Holly, the longsuffering best friend of beautiful, capricious mess Marina, is heartbreaking.
“Me Without You” is a story about the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of friendship. We see the inseparable Holly and Marina (Anna Friel) grow up together from little girls playing in the yard, to teens experimenting with drugs and sex, to college students, and finally adults. From the time they are girls, it’s clear that Holly is the smart one and Marina is the pretty one, and the adults in their lives, particularly their mothers, constantly remind them of those roles, lest they should ever try to change.
We’ve all had a friend like Marina, someone who keeps us close, but frequently undermines us and tries to prevent us from growing. Like most of these clinging, suffocating friends, Marina is driven by abandonment issues and lives in fear of Holly growing into a person who won’t need or want her anymore. Of course, her fear is well-founded; we do outgrow our childhood friends for the most part. Even if we always remain friends on some level, we move apart, find spouses, and end up not spending every day together anymore. Over the years, Holly chafes more and more against the constricting bonds of Marina’s friendship, trying to find her own identity.
This may sound like grim stuff, but it isn’t. “Me Without You” has plenty of humor, and the performances of the two actresses, not to mention Oliver Milburn as Marina’s brother, make it impossible to stop watching. A warning though: The movie may make you look at your own best friend in a new light.
4 stars out of 5