Me Myself I Movie Review

Call it "Sliding Doors" for soccer moms, but "Me Myself I" is the only one of these currently fashionable which-life-is-real? pictures that has at its center a real question in the lives of modern women: Family or Career?

The always wonderful and largely under-appreciated Rachel Griffiths (OK, so she was Oscar nominated for "Hilary and Jackie") stars as Pamela, a laptop-toting workaholic journalist for a Sydney, Australia women's magazine who has a frustratingly empty love life, has just quit smoking 17.5 days ago and is beginning to hear the faint ticking of her biological clock.

Her life is organized in hundreds of Post-It notes. She eats bran cereal with soy milk -- for dinner. She's know for her acerbic sense of humor and for habitually winning professional accolades ("Here's another bloody award for your teen suicide piece," an editor yawns, tossing a statuette on her desk).

Although she's mostly cheerful, Pamela is also prone to fits of deep melancholy, during which she contemplates what life might have been like with Robert, the one that got away 13 years before.

The morning after a self-pity session with a pint of ice cream and a porno tape, Pamela has a "Twilight Zone" moment when she runs into the white picket fence version of herself on the street. This alternate Pamela did marry Robert (David Roberts). She has three kids, a house in the 'burbs and a dusty home office with a neglected 286 computer that runs windows 3.1, when and if its ever turned on.

Pamela No. 2 invites Pamela No. 1 home for tea -- then vanishes, leaving the single, self-centered, career Pam to cope with the married mommy and housewife edition of her life.

Writer-director Pip Karmel (an award-winning editor and short subject/documentary filmmaker) slips a sharp-edged sense of humor into a film that could have easily been a regrettable, pandering, re-examination-of-life, chick flick sit-com. Karmel isn't afraid to be dark (early in the film, Pam considers dropping her hairdryer in the tub and ending it all) or realistic: Pamela predictably discovers her what-if, minivan life is no bowl of cherries (Yael Stone steals scenes as her sullen, newly-teenage daughter), but Karmel's unsentimental complications also include the temptation of other men, amplified by the discovery that Robert hasn't always been faithful to the domestic Pam.

The film is, refreshingly, as smart as the audience (Pamela calls her own phone number to see if her other life has disappeared completely). Griffiths is every bit as witty and appealing as Gwyneth Paltrow was in "Doors" -- and all the more genuine for her everywoman beauty and her scars-and-all portrayal of her character's foibles and shortcomings.

Said shortcomings at times hurt the audience's relationship with Pamela -- or at least they did for me when I was disappointed in some of her selfish decisions. But "Me Myself I" will still feel like a terrific little discovery for women who identify with the cleft Pamela feels in her life from both sides of the career-family equation. The film might also prove an entertaining learning tool for men trying to understand these kind of crises when the women in their lives are faced by them (the priority thing, not the parallel existence thing).

Either way, while "Me Myself I" isn't a great movie or even a particularly memorable movie, it is a diverting, intelligent and emotionally complex pleaser full of smiles and food for thought.

Comments

Me Myself I Rating

" OK "

Rating: R, Opened: Friday, April 14, 2000

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