Me Without You

"Harina" is the nickname given to two childhood neighbors and friends, Holly and Marina, because they are such good friends and are so close. It is quickly obvious that in "Harina" there is far more "Marina" than there is "Holly," which lies at the core of Me Without You, the new movie written and directed by Sandra Goldbacher (The Devil's Chimney, The Governess) and co-written by Laurence Coriat (Wonderland). Me Without You traces the friendship between Holly (Michelle Williams, Perfume, But I'm A Cheerleader) and Marina (Anna Friel, An Everlasting Piece, Sunset Strip). The film begins when they are children, and quickly moves forward in time stopping at certain points to see how their friendship is evolving (dissolving). As children, the two seems equals, but as time passes, Marina becomes the dominant one.

Marina enjoys the wild party life of drugs and alcohol, and Holly becomes more of the studious intellectual type. When Marina goes clubbing, Holly is out protesting. As Goldbacher visits them in high school, college, and post-college, and their differences grow. The one constant is the crush that Holly has on Marina's older brother Nat (Oliver Milburn, Paranoid, The Cookie Thief). Holly uses Marina as a sort of intermediary to relay notes and messages. Nat does likewise. What both do not realize is that Marina does do as she's told. If Marina gives her a message for Nat, she never delivers it. Marina is jealous of the potential connection between Nat and Holly, and does not want to lose her "control" of Holly. In college, their friendship undergoes immense strain when they both begin relationships with Daniel (Kyle MacLachlan, Timecode, Hamlet), a professor at their university. After this, things are never quite the same. It is as if Holly is beginning to realize exactly how she feels about Marina, yet it will still take time for her to come out and say it.

Goldbacher does do a good job of showing a crumbling friendship, and how it affects Marina and Holly. What she does not do is show why they are friends in the first place. From the perspective of the viewer, Marina is controlling and manipulative the entire movie, and she is nearly unbearable near the end. Quick shots of happy children on swings and playing patty-cake are not enough to establish what she posits as a deep bond. Williams gives a good performance as Holly, and has proven herself the most accomplished actor of all her Dawson's Creek cohorts. Goldbacher sends her character through the emotional wringer. It seems that nothing she does ever turns out right, and the older Holly is, the more it affects her emotionally. She shuts down when Marina is around, and is animated and happy when Marina is gone. When the two are together, Marina's personality dominates between the two. The two do get in some spectacular fights, but Goldbacher never delves into the aftermaths in a satisfactory manner. They fight, they argue for a while, then don't talk, then everything is better. At times, it seems Goldbacher is more interested in getting the time period right. She takes us from the early seventies all the way to the new millennium, with a focus on fashion and the appropriate music for each time period. Me Without You does present a compelling look at the ebbing friendship between Holly and Marina, but since it does not really take the time to establish that friendship, Goldbacher's intense emotions become muted.

Mongoose Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 47 minutes, Rated R for language, sexual content, and drug use.

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