Me Without You  (2001)


Starring: Michelle Williams, Anna Friel, Kyle MacLachlan

Director: Sandra Goldbacher

Rating: R

Studio: Columbia Tristar

Release Date: 6.17.03

Review Posted: 6.14.03

Spoilers: None


Reviewed by Dennis Landmann




One long, hot summer in seventies London, Holly (Michelle Williams) and Marina (Anna Friel) make a childhood pact to be friends forever. For the troubled, unpredictable Marina, with her seemingly glamorous father and her Valium-addicted mother, Holly stays the only constant in a life of divorcing parents, experimental drugs and fashionable self-destruction. Meanwhile, Holly buries herself in books out of feelings of frustration with her over-protective mother and a nagging insecurity around her beautiful and possessive best friend. She holds just one secret from Marina, her increasing passion for Marina's brother Nat. As the years go by, they experience everything life has to offer, sex, love, loss and rock 'n roll.




Me Without You is a heartfelt character study of two life-long friends, portrayed very nicely by Michelle Williams and Anna Friel. Friendship is the most important thing in the lives of kids as they grow up. Iím not drawing this conclusion from this film, but from my own experience. Incidentally, this film chronicles the evolution of a long-time friendship, but the emotional effect somewhat breaks off in its crass dramatization of it. By crass I mean the situations and events surrounding the friendship. Taking place in Britain during the turbulent 1980s might prove to be a hard time in keeping up with your best friend. Things change and people change. So goes the story of Holly and Marina as they face and have to set aside their differences, emotions and love interests (Kyle MacLachlan plays a professor who is sexually involved with both of them).


Williams and Friel inhabit these two girls quite commandingly. Williams is most enthusiastic, however, as she is more conservative and true to herself than Anna Frielís Marina, not to mention Williams is better looking but thatís really beside the point. The fact remains is that, I believe, the film is a bit of a stretch. The story spans well over thirty years and for a frail friendship such as theirs to survive all that time must be the work of a wee miracle. For dramatic purposes, director Sandra Goldbacher, who also co-wrote the script, chooses to make their friendship sustain the length of time, but in retrospect challenges the viewerís attitude towards the two girls. Me Without You almost feels like a personal account, but then again it does not. The film is mostly genuine, despite some of the flaws.


Me Without You also does have its rewarding parts. Its humor is likeable. Its drama is more than passable. Its sex scenes are, well, on the same page. But probably the biggest positive of the film is its assortment of recognizable, selected songs from the early 70s to the late 90s. Me Without You is a nice little character study, however, itís not without its share of pretentious drama. The film is not for everyone, because at some point you will ask yourself, "how long is this going to continue," yet couples looking for a good time on a Friday night might want to stay up a little late and rent a copy of this film from the video store.


The Video


Columbia Tristar presents Me Without You in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This transfer shows some problems. Some scenes show a lot of grain and dirt, especially the ones at night. Is this a problem with the transfer or the print quality? Iím not sure, but it might be the lighting or what kind of camera was used. The filmís color palette is generally fine, but all together a little on the soft side. Color detail is inconsistent. Dark tones and black level suffer greatly in a few spots. Overall, Me Without You looks decent, but the occasional grainy image is a bit distracting.


The Audio


Columbia Tristar presents Me Without You in English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. The assortment of time-referencing music in the film is quite nice and impacts the sound system in a decent way. Dialog is clear and easy to understand. In the overall sense, however, this film is not really designed or equipped to correctly handle surround sound. Therefore, Me Without You sounds decent and a little loud when the music starts playing.


The Extras


The only feature is the filmís Theatrical Trailer, plus bonus trailers for Dick and the Audrey Tautou film He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not. You can select to view the film with optional English subtitles. The DVDís menus are interactive, but not animated. The 101-minute feature is organized into twenty-eight chapters.




Michelle Williams really shines in Me Without You and Anna Friel is also pretty good. The film stretches a bit too far in time, but the basic drama of this character study is likeable and sweet. The video transfer is somewhat bad, though the audio presentation holds a very slight advantage over the video. The abundance of special features makes this disc look too empty. Therefore, Iíll recommend this film only as a possible rental on a late Friday night.









OVERALL (not an average)







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