This may be a drama about breast cancer, but it's astutely written and played with a jagged sense of humour that makes it thoroughly entertaining. Anchored by energetic, emotionally resonant performances from Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette, the film is also a sharp depiction of lifelong friends who travel through some enormous events together. And by keeping everything so funny and honest, it's even more moving than expected.
Jess and Milly (Barrymore and Collette) have grown up together in London, outsiders who always had each others' backs. Their respective spouses Jago and Kit (Paddy Considine and Dominic Cooper) have become part of their extended family, as are Milly's two sparky kids (Honor Kneafsey and Ryan Lennon Baker) and Milly's diva mum (Jacqueline Bisset). Jess has never been able to get pregnant, so she and Jago are undergoing fertility treatment. And just as Jess finds out that she's pregnant, Milly is diagnosed with cancer. Both are understandably nervous about sharing their news. Then things get even more strained when Milly's relationship with Kit falters, and she starts flirting shamelessly with a local barman (Tyson Ritter).
Morwenna Banks' screenplay may have a fairly standard structure, but its details are fresh and unusually balanced, cleverly deepening the characters and never letting the movie fall into sentimental sappiness. Indeed, as the emotions get more intense, the interaction gets edgier and the jokes dirtier. Both Barrymore and Collette shine in their roles. With the showier, more wrenching character, Collette brings a raucous feistiness that's utterly infectious, even when Milly does something she knows is wrong. She is certainly not a cancer "victim"! And Barrymore digs much deeper than usual as Jess, deploying her impeccable comic timing to draw out the character's inner yearnings. Opposite them, both Considine and Cooper are excellent in roles that are more textured than the usual long-suffering husbands.
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