Sunday, October 9, 2011

My life without me

By Sati. Sunday, October 9, 2011 , , , , , ,
(106 min, 2003)
Plot: A young woman conceals the fact of her terminal cancer to live her life with a passion she never had before.
Director: Isabel Coixet
Writers: Isabel Coixet, Nanci Kincaid (book)
Stars: Sarah Polley, Scott Speedman and Mark Ruffalo

Dream up a heaven for me

(slight spoilers)

Ann, 23 years old, lives a modest life with her two kids and her husband in a trailer in her mother's garden. Her life takes a dramatic turn, when her doctor tells her that she has uterine cancer and only two months to live. She compiles a list of things to do before she dies.

This movie is beautiful, warm and heartbreaking at the same time. And it's remarkable in its heroine, simple girl, ordinary one, who suddenly finds out she only has little time left. Ann (Sarah Poley) doesn't tell anyone about her illness. When she receives the news she takes them calmly, shedding only few tears. She carries on with her life as if nothing happened – she takes care of her little daughters and her husband Don (Scott Speedman). But she also decides to do all the things she wanted to do, so she makes a list. It's not a list of unimaginable and glamorous things as in horrible “The Bucket List”, but something all of us can relate to and dream of – to make someone fall in love with you, to find new wife for your beloved husband after you'll be gone, to record messages for birthdays of your daughters.

As Ann carries on with her simple life she meets Lee (Mark Ruffalo) and starts affair with him. Some people may call it selfish, this and not telling her family what's going on with her. But Ann's husband was her first love and she never experienced anything else – they met on the concert, they had kids, they got married. Everyone is entitled to a little selfishness when one knows how little time is left. Lee falls for her and they spend magical moments together, something that gives Ann strength and takes her mind off her condition for a while.

She also tries to rebuild her relationship with her mother and her dad, who's in prison. She doesn't let anyone suspect that's she is seriously ill – she tells them she has anemia. She doesn't want her family and loved ones to see her in hospitals and she wants them to have only happy memories with her. If anything, I admired the heroine of the movie. The fear of death is the worst kind – if we won't die in some accident, we have great chance of sitting at doctor's office one day and finding out that soon we'll be gone and we're going to left everything behind, everything and everyone we love. Ann not telling anyone about her cancer only shows her incredible love and care – not so long ago I thought it was it for me, fortunately it turned out I was fine. But I couldn't carry that burden, that fear all by myself. Ann conceals the truth and has to face it by herself – in the voice over we get to hear her thoughts, about death, about how people try to cheat it and no one succeeds. But she is calm, peaceful.

As everyone she has regrets about how her life turned out, about all the things she once dreamed of that didn't come true, just as her mother. But does out best dreams, the ones that would bring us the greatest happiness ever come true? But Ann is happy – she tells her daughter that when she gave birth to her, it was the happiest day of her life. Ann has a neighbor, also named Ann, who after traumatic event isn't sure if she wants kids or not. Comparing to her Ann is the lucky one, her life was a happy one, even if ordinary, even if soon to be over.

The movie has light, magical soundtrack and raw yet very beautiful cinematography. There are so many gorgeous scenes in “My Life Without Me” and poignant observations Ann tells us in her voice over. Everyone of us can relate to the heroine, even if our life is very much different. Her plan on how to deal with dying and leaving everyone behind is touching and inspiring. “Your whole life's been a dream and it's only now that you're waking up” Ann says in one scene. It's only after she finds out she's going to pass away she starts to make her only, little dreams come true. Little, but great in everyone's life – family, love, fun. She can't do anything to change her path so she makes her peace with it, bravely and without complaining. Her husband says in once scene that despite their simple life she never complained. Ann's character is built so well, that as odd as her peaceful reaction to horrible news may be, we understand it.

Sarah Polley delivers wonderful performance – she's very versatile actress and I saw her in many movies, but that is her best work. The viewer sympathizes with her immediately and whenever she cries, we cry too. Everyone else is doing great job too – Scott Speedman and Mark Ruffalo are well cast and the latter one is doing very good job at creating a character we feel for, although we don't know much about him. I was also very impressed with Leonor Watling's performance as Ann's neighbor.

“My Life Without Me” will make you cry, reflect on things and for 100 minutes put you in the place of the heroine – how would you cope? What would your list look like? And it teaches us to always tell the people we love that we love them. After all, we never know how much time we have left.


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