Focusing an entire dramatic film on death can be tricky. Death drives an enormous range of emotions, from fear to sadness, to curiosity; yet, most movies treat death with overwrought nobility, excessive weepiness, or yikes, both (see: Pay It Forward). Spanish director Isabel Coixet's first English-language feature suffers from the first sin, treating a young women's impending death with a stagy aloofness that cheats the film of more complex emotions.

The unfortunate woman is 24-year-old Ann (the always appealing Sarah Polley), a struggling wife and mother who learns that a raging cancer will kill her in just a few months. Ann's initial response is to hide the news from her mother (Deborah Harry); very matter-of-factly, she continues to follow that M.O. by telling no one, including her husband Don (Scott Speedman, grinning way too much).

Continue reading: My Life Without Me Review