Directed By: Sandra Goldbacher
Written By: Sandra Goldbacher
Produced By: Finola Dwyer, Judy Counihan, Ulrich Felsberg, Torsten Leschly
Cast: Trudie Styler, Michelle Williams, Anna Friel, Blake Ritson, Kyle MacLachlan, Oliver Milburn
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 107 minutes
Review Date: July 14, 2010
Every best-friend relationship suffers the same tribulations: jealousy, back-stabbing, secrets, causing deliberate hurt and pain, curtness, sadness and most importantly, confusion. Every person out there will be able to identify with either Marina (Anna Friel) or Holly (Michelle Williams), or maybe both of them.
Me Without You takes the viewer through the many years of “Harina” (Holly/Marina’s special name for themselves). We see everything, from them exploring makeup for the first time, to using hard drugs, having sex, and schoolwork. Marina assumes the role of go-getter and oftentimes appears as a bully to Holly, making her feel guilty for her more conservative upbringing, as well as her conservative clothing choices. Throughout all of this, we see the little crush Holly carries each year on Marina’s brother, Nat (Oliver Milburn).
The first trial to this otherwise unbreakable bond comes when the girls begin university together. Holly fancies their teacher, Daniel (Kyle MacLachlan), and tells Marina. Both Marina and Holly begin affairs with him. Each affair goes unnoticed by the other girl until Marina finds Holly’s necklace in the bed. From here, the script takes the viewer on a journey of betrayal, lies, and secrets. You see the friendship falter and Holly take more responsibility for her life and decisions.
The film follows the girls chronologically through the years, each year ending with a fab (and later quite drab) New Year’s Eve party at Marina’s mum’s (Trudie Styler). We see Holly and Nat try and try again with their relationship, each time driving Nat back into the arms of his on-again-off-again girlfriend, Isabel.
Many relationship dynamics ring true throughout this script, from the relationship with parents, to best friends, to lovers and to enemies. Williams is superb in the role of Holly, and at times reminded me of Carey Mulligan from An Education (she even looks like her with her doe eyes and brown, mousy hair).
A favorite scene of mine was a monologue from Holly in which she explains to Marina that the friendship has run its course — that the Harina era has ended. “I don’t want to be us anymore. We’re suffocating each other.” It is only after this that we see Holly for who she really is — a girl shaped by conservative ideals, raised among a wild, savage, and free spirit named Marina.
Everyone — boy or girl — remembers the first friend who helped them through life stages (though I must say, I’m particularly happy mine did not resemble Marina in the slightest). The Harina duo begins with all the same promise and hopes a childhood best friend friendship brings. You truly believe you will remain together until the very end, and that nothing will stand in your way. You really start to believe, and feel, that there is no “me without you.”
Hanna Soltys is a green tea drinker and film critic living in Chicago.