It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Marina and Holly's childhood friendship evolves into a toxic relationship when they grow up, but they still remain close because even when they're hurting each other, there's no one else they'd rather hurt. Ever had a friend like that? Although Marina is more neurotic and Holly is more the victim, maybe it's because they like it that way. If Holly knew the whole story of how Marina betrays her, she'd be devastated--but then, of course, she doesn't.
"Me Without You" has a bracing truth that's refreshing after the phoniness of female-bonding pictures like "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood." It doesn't mindlessly celebrate female friendship, but looks at it with a level gaze. If Holly and Marina remain friends despite everything--well, maybe it would be a shame to throw away all that history.
Sandra Goldbacher's film begins in London in 1974 and continues for another 20 years, paying close attention to changing fashions in clothing, music and makeup, while not making too big a point of it. We meet Holly (Michelle Williams of "Dawson's Creek") and Marina (Anna Friel) as adolescents who seal their friendship by placing treasures in a box and hiding it (there is a law requiring all female friends to perform this ritual in the movies). We meet their parents. Marina has a mother who fancies herself a sexpot and is a little drunk all day long, and a father who is, understandably, distant. Holly comes from a Jewish family that is warm but not especially supportive; she learns from her mother that she is more clever than pretty, and is not clever enough to figure out that she's pretty, too.
Marina has a brother named Nat (Oliver Milburn) who Holly has always been in love with. He is a decent sort and likes Holly, too, and one night during their hippie party phase he makes love to her, but this is not on Marina's agenda and she destroys a crucial letter that could have changed everything.