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MY LIFE WITHOUT ME, 2003
Movie Reviews!

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MY LIFE WITHOUT ME, 2003
Movie Reviews

Directed by Isabel Coixet
Starring: Sarah Polley, Amanda Plummer, Scott Speedman, Deborah Harry, Mark Ruffalo, Julian Richings, Leonor Watling
Review by Nina Katungi



SYNOPSIS:

Ann, a twenty-three year old wife and mother of two is diagnosed with terminal cancer. With only two months to live, Ann decides to keep the tragic news from her family and instead makes an ambitious list of all the things she wants to do before she’s gone.

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REVIEW:

“My Life Without Me” is based on the short story “My Bed is a Raft”, which was written by Nanci Kincaid in 1987. Isabel Coixet adapted the story into a screenplay and brought this wonderful tale to the screen. Isabel Coixet is a Spanish director with quite a few films under her belt. She was one of the director’s involved in “Paris Je T’aime” a film comprised of short films representing love in Paris. She wrote and directed the short “Bastille”, which starred Miranda Richardson and Sergio Castellitto. I have yet to watch many of her other features but plan to do so especially if “My Life Without Me” has anything to go by.

Sarah Polley plays Ann, a lovely, gentle soul. At such a young age Ann has already found eternal love with her high-school sweetheart, Don (Speedman), and has two beautiful daughters, Penny and Patsy. They live a modest life in a caravan, which is situated in the backyard of Ann’s mother’s (Harry) house. Ann works at night cleaning and Don is unemployed but each day he goes out in search for a job. Their lives may not sound like much but their house is full of love, which really is the most important thing.

When Ann finds out about her condition she decides to keep it to herself. She convinces her doctor (Richings) to keep it a secret and he becomes her only reality in regards to her health, which is a good thing as he is always there to comfort her. Ann decides to write a list of all the things she wants to do before she passes. One night after work, Ann goes to a late-night diner and starts to write her list – and so her new life begins. Her list includes making tapes for her daughters for every year until they’re eighteen, finding a new friend or prospect girlfriend for her husband Don, going to see her father who is in jail, and making love to another man other than her husband. This other man, Lee (Ruffalo) just happens to be in the diner where Ann is making her list. He notices her from across the room and seems to be instantly smitten.

The story turns into a string of events, where Ann discovers another part of herself. She begins a love affair with Lee and unexpectedly falls head over heels for him. Although she still loves her husband Don, Lee brings out a side of her she never knew and in the end it becomes hard to let go of him too. Ann also finds a friend in her new neighbour Ann (Watling) amd yes they share the same name. Ann brings her new friend into her life and family. The kids start to get to know her as well her husband, Don too. Ann’s lucky to find this lovely woman and so close to home too. This is an unconventional story where the basic rules of life do not apply. We simply want Ann to achieve all her goals before her time runs out.

Sarah Polley has such a great presence and just plays this character wonderfully. I find her to be quite the chameleon because she manages to be distinctly different in every role that she takes. She is in a lot of films, most of them as a co-star but blends into each film (in a good way) so naturally. Not only is she a great actress but also a filmmaker too. She’s most recently known for writing and directing “Away From Her”, starring the beautiful and talented Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent. This film follows the same tone as “My Life Without Me” and tells the story of a couple in love, struggling to keep adrift as the wife spirals further and further down into a life of Alzheimer’s. It’s a beautiful tale reflecting the brilliant talents of Sarah Polley. I would definitely keep my eye out for anything that she is involved in.

I remember watching this film when it just came out and I fell in love with it. Even though it was a really sad story I found it to be uplifting. Ann managed to achieve all the things she wanted to do in those last couple of months. If we imagined her list to be lifelong goals then she was a success. It reminds me about the important things in my life and not taking them for granted. There are people that live a long life but barely achieve what Ann does. “My Life Without Me” reminds me to live life in the now because you never know what tomorrow’s going to bring.

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