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My Life Without Me

Starring Sarah Polley, Amanda Plummer, Scott Speedman
Screenplay based on the story "Pretending the Bed is a Raft" by Nanci Kincaid
Written and Directed by Isabel Coixet

IN SHORT: Heavy duty chick flick. [Rated R for language. 102 minutes]

Once upon a time there was a young woman of limited means, called Ann (Sarah Polley). Ann and husband Don (Scott Speedman) live with their single digit daughters Penny, 6, and Patsy, 4, in a trailer out back of mom's house (Deborah Harry as mom). Ann cleans up after the rich kid students at a local university, where her best friend Laurie (Amanda Plummer) notices that she's been dropping a lot of weight -- in context, the still single Laurie breathes too deeply and she puts on a pair of pounds. Ann collapses in the trailer one day and tells everyone that she has severe anemia. Mom breathes a sigh of relief. Don was hoping for a third kid, even though he's just landed his first job after a year without.

Ann then makes a list, entitled: Things To Do Before I Die, because Ann has lied to everyone and she has refused treatment for a cancer which will kill her in two months. Three months, tops.

We knew those details walking in and they didn't detract from the telling of the story, so we warn you in advance. We do that because, stepping out of the critic's role for a second, we once had a femme who was near and dear to us who refused treatment (for entirely different reasons that the fictional character in this film). We still carry some baggage from losing her. More important, it sets up the burning question "Why didn't she tell?" Compliments to writer/director Isabel Coixet for holding back on that answer because that is the sole plot element that kept our attention fixed to the screen.

More important, holding back on that question pushes My Life Without Me into non-Love Story territory. We can't say that that makes the film more male friendly.It does give you something to wait for as Ann moves through her final days. From the female POV, we invoke the memory of an ex-girl friend who would have been in a knee deep puddle by the end of this film.

Among the more interesting items on the "to do" list are: find a new husband and father for the kids, which takes some viewer friendly and sometimes very funny turns; record birthday messages for the kids through their 18th anniversaries; "make love to as many men possible, just to see what it feels like". Ann's husband was her only lover and, an indie production having limited budgets, she takes only one man (Mark Ruffalo), a sensitive guy with his own set of emotional problems.

Correction: our ex would have been waist deep.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to My Life Without Me, he would have paid . . .


much higher for puddle generators. For the guys who don't wear sensitivity on their sleeves, well, this is a tough sit. This is the kind of movie you (sometimes) must endure to make your girl happy.

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