Your weekly Netflix pick is an emotional powerhouse. The feature debut of director Stephanie Laing shows a lot of promise for the filmmaker. This is also the second Netflix release starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw. A young actress with immense talent.
Abbie (Mbatha-Raw) and Sam (Michiel Huisman) first fell in love at the age of eight. The movie opens on a cute class field trip that sets the stage quickly and elegantly. When the main story picks up the couple are in their late 20’s or early 30’s. They are more in love than ever and have a ‘go with the flow’ attitude about things. When Abbie feels she’s pregnant she improvises an unconventional proposal. The two look forward to their next chapter.
The Doctor’s appointment to confirm the pregnancy doesn’t go to plan. Abbie has a tumor and stage four cancer. She begins undergoing treatment immediately. The couple confronts the thought of the very real possibility of life after Abbie.
The couple aspect of Irreplaceable You isn’t the most original idea for a movie. The caliber of Mbatha-Raw and Huisman’s performances are what sells it. They are charming. The relationship feels developed beyond the narrative deeming it necessary.
Talented actors fill in the lives around Abbie and Sam. Christopher Walken, Steve Coogan, and Brian Tyree Henry all lend a hand. Walken gets a fair amount of screen time but the other actors are limited. Delivering memorable performances in a short time is another testament to talent. Talent in acting, writing, and directing.
The struggles with cancer and the stresses of it feel very real. Irreplaceable You is reminiscent of 2011’s incredible 50/50 by Jonathan Levine.
Abbie focuses her time on helping Sam plan for life without her. Sam’s frustration is in her already planning to be gone. The strain is understandable. The confusion at their situation is as palpable as their love for each other. There is clear distaste for their own actions, even while they are unfolding.
Without delving into spoiler territory the end is very powerful and poetic writing. It feels typical Hollywood and real world true at the same time. At a tight 96 minutes it’s well worth a watch. It’s worth your time even if you aren’t into typical rom-coms… it isn’t one.
Not only Stephanie Liang’s directorial debut. Irreplaceable You is also the writing and producing debut for actress Bess Wohl. Movies generally try to pack in as many poster worthy names as possible. This movie takes some relative newcomers to the industry and puts them together.
While not a perfect movie Irreplaceable You is charming and finely crafted.
Irreplaceable You – 4/5
A more personal note:
I wouldn’t have looked at this movie twice a handful of years ago. Since I met my wife I have been a lot more open to these types of films. That along with watching my Aunt lose her own battle with cancer last year gave me a lot to look for in this movie. Irreplaceable You delivered on all fronts.
I could see myself in their position. I could put myself into the shoes of any one of the characters on screen. Even if you haven’t experienced these trials or came face to face with this level of loss there is something to relate to in this beautiful movie.
It doesn’t hurt that Gugu Mbatha-Raw is absolutely adorable.