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Me Without You review

With the talented and increasingly sexy Anna Friel in the lead, and the kind of retro story and accompanying oh-so-fashionable soundtrack, this could have been a frisky, funny, coming-of-age movie. That's certainly how it starts. But after two hours of bitching in the company of the traitorous Marina and the neurotic, victimised Holly, you'll feel like you've been through the whole 20 years of their moribund `friendship' in real time.

We meet the girls as suburban teen virgins in the late '70s. Friel gets to strut her stuff as the foxy, diabolical one, while Williams (one of the many wets from Dawson's Creek), is the clever, dull one. Deciding that their time has come, they slap on the war paint and dress up as ridiculous-looking Goths for the worst party you've ever seen, where they both shag their way into the adult world.

This is where, for a brief moment, Me Without You is intriguing, because the chappie to whom Holly loses her virginity is Marina's older brother, Nat (Oliver Milburn). Marina is furious, and it becomes apparent that she isn't in the slightest bit interested in her friend's happiness.

Writer/director Sandra Goldbacher has a strong theme in her tale of claustrophobic friendship. The problem is the way she develops it. Fast-forwarding, first to college days in Brighton (pseudy classes, drugs, bad parties), then to the '90s (young professionals, marriage, bad parties), doesn't take the story forward, just around and around in circles of jealousy, neurosis and despair.

These faults are compounded, ironically, by the fact that Friel is so convincing as the awful Marina. All sympathy for her goes out of the window around, say, 1985. Which makes the next 15 years very hard to bear.

An interesting premise and strong cast are let down badly by leaden plotting and direction. Ultimately a piece of nostalgic navel-gazing that isn't intriguing or even entertaining enough to work properly on any level. Shame.

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