What do you do with a terminal cancer diagnosis? Get angry, despair, feel shock? If your answer is to plan out your significant other’s romantic life without you, you may belong in this week’s film. You may also want to reevaluate your choices, but hey–do what you want.
A young woman with a rare form of cancer decides to find a partner to care for her fiancé after her death.
Pulling no punches, narrator Abbie immediately tells us she is no more; she has ceased to be; she has passed on; she is dead. Sadly, Abbie was only in her 30s when she passed away. Though she seems to be at peace, she worries about the future of her fiancé, Sam.
After growing up together, Abbie and Sam are finally ready to tie the knot when it seems that Abbie is pregnant. However, the gods are such fucking assholes, and it turns out the growth in Abbie’s stomach is a malignant tumor. The wedding plans are decidedly off, though initially the two try to carry on as usual. Sam continues to teach in his role as a TA, while Abbie keeps working as something or other to do with children’s publishing?
Abbie does join a support group that crochets together, where she meets Christopher Walken, Kate McKinnon, and Steve Coogan. I thought Kate and Steve were completely wasted here, as 90% of what they do is sit around in a circle and crochet. Tami Sagher plays one of the supporting characters in the group, and I think she has much funnier lines here (though Kate does have a good one about Catholic yoga).
The dynamic between Abbie and Christopher Walken (Myron) is great as the two bond immediately, discussing life, rare birds, and ugly vests. Myron tries to help Abbie accept things as they are and spend more time focusing on the present–advice that is largely ignored.
While Abbie undergoes treatment, she doesn’t seem to be getting any better. She begins to worry about what will happen to Sam when she’s no longer around to help him. Will he be able to take care of himself? Will he go through a “slut phase” as Christopher Walken predicts? To ease her fears, Abbie begins scoping out women for Sam to date after she dies. This is both incredibly morbid and cringingly anti-feminist as Abbie judgmentally dismisses cat ladies, sluts, and general weirdos.
Just when Abbie is ready to give up, she meets a waitress who really clicks with Sam. However, Abbie isn’t as up for all of this as she thought she was and realizes getting what she wants may be the worst possible outcome. After Sam finds out about Abbie’s plan, he’s upset about her scheming and attempts to control his life. Will the couple make up before it’s too late?
2/5 Pink Panther Heads
My biggest problem with this one is the uneven tone–I never totally understood if this was supposed to be funny or tragic because it fell flat on both counts. There was a moment between Abbie and her sassy nurse that felt genuine, but many of the other emotional moments felt empty to me. It’s also confusing to see so many comedians in roles that aren’t that funny, though Christopher Walken is great, of course. Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Abbie does well despite lack of interesting material–both leads are pretty bland. Abbie is a bit of a nightmarish type A stereotype, while Sam is so devoid of personality he’s practically a blank canvas for Abbie.
There were a couple of other issues that occurred to me throughout the film. For one, how are Abbie and Sam not concerned about money? They seem to be existing on a TA’s income, paying for expensive treatments, and (spoiler) later planning a wedding. The other thing that really bothered me was Abbie’s narration as a…ghost? This is never explained, and Abbie does admit she’s having trouble leaving Sam behind, but this isn’t necessarily the focus of the film. This part of the story feels like an aside and gives us a rather unsatisfying ending.
That being said, Abbie and Sam’s apartment is fucking perfect and what my filthy hipster dreams are made of.