Irreplaceable You begins in the cemetery where Abbie (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is buried. In a voice over, Abbie explains her story. It began when she and Sam (Michiel Huisman) were 8 years old. They’d been together ever since.
Irreplaceable You had all the credentials I look for in a movie. Female director – Stephanie Laing, female writer – Bess Wohl. Great lead actress in Gugu Mbatha-Raw. But it didn’t quite come together – some of it succeeded and some of it didn’t.
It succeeds as a love story, but it’s too cheery and upbeat for a march to the end for the lead character. It felt more like a comedy than a story about a young woman dying of cancer.
The supporting cast was outstanding: Steve Coogan, Jacki Weaver, Kate McKinnon, Christopher Walken, Tamara Tunie, Merritt Wever, Brian Tyree Henry, and Timothy Simons. The performance from Christopher Walken was exceptionally good.
Abbie and Sam learned that Abbie had cancer when they went to the doctor to confirm Abbie’s pregnancy. It wasn’t a baby, it was a stage 4 tumor. To deal with the life changing news, Abbie joined a support group where she befriended Myron (Walken). She also decided it was her responsibility to find the perfect woman for Sam to have after she was gone.
The timeline wasn’t clear but Abbie devoted a far too many of her dying days to the what ifs of Sam’s future. She had surgery but we didn’t see any effects of it. She had chemo but it only made her throw up once and she never seemed to feel bad.
In the final 5 minutes or so of the film, Abbie finally realized she had better things to do with her final days and weeks than try to fix Sam in advance. She finally looked and acted sick. The dying of cancer part of the story felt very unrealistic.
The part that worked was the chemistry between Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Michiel Huisman. They were terrific together. The tone between them was more comedic and lovey-dovey than a couple facing a death should have felt, but they were terrific. The poignant ending was in keeping with the love story.
The friendship between Myron and Abbie also worked well. Some of the best lines about facing death came from Myron’s cynical outlook.
If I were giving stars to this film, I’d give it 3 out of 5. Not great, not terrible. I had high expectations for Irreplaceable You and wanted it to be better than it was, which is probably why my review is so full of complaints about it. It didn’t meet my expectations.
Have you seen this Netflix original? What did you think of it?