Just outside of London in the early ’70s, two little girls blindfold each other and step gingerly through a homemade danger course of broken glass. They’re scolded for wearing their mother’s makeup; they grow up a little, lose their virginity at the same party; they grow up a little, go to the same college; they grow up a little ... Holly (Michelle Williams) and Marina (Anna Friel) are lifelong friends, and Me Without You chronicles their lives together.
Directed by Sandra Goldbacher (The Governess), the film has a wonderful knack for capturing each decade’s zeitgeist with right-on rich costuming and animated colloquial dialogue, like when late-’70s Holly and Marina lie hopeless on a bed in torn nylons and black lipstick, lamenting, “I’m so bored, I could kill myself” and “I’m too bored to kill myself,” with the Normal’s “Warm Leatherette” playing in the background.
Holly and Marina’s lives are so closely tied, they have trouble identifying themselves without the other, and as in many relationships, one is more dependent and afraid of separation.
Holly has a crush on their French critical theory teacher, Daniel, nicely clinched by the handsome and slightly haggard Kyle MacLachlan. When Marina teases Holly about never acting on the crush, Holly proves her wrong — altering what she “wouldn’t do” as plain ol’ Holly — but Holly doesn’t count on Marina’s reaction.
Me Without You is one-sided. Even though we have sympathy for her, Marina is made out to be the bad guy, when you know Holly has to be getting something out of the relationship or she wouldn’t be in it.
Some characters aren’t developed enough. When Holly tells her parents she’s moving to New York, her mom blows a sprocket, ranting about all the opportunities Holly messed up. The harangue seems to come out of the blue from a character we’ve hardly seen. Finally, there’s a quick, unsatisfactory ending, leaving the impression that Goldbacher simply ran out of time.
A friendship is a relationship like any other and can harbor unspoken jealousies and resentments that manipulate and undermine it. But be careful with quick judgments — sometimes the person keeping you from what you want is the one who made it available in the first place.
Opens Friday exclusively at the Maple Art Theatre (4135 W. Maple, W. of Telegraph). Call 248-542-0180.
Anita Schmaltz writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.