You're Not You: Movie Review
Cast: Hilary Swank, Emmy Rossum, Josh Duhamel, Ali Larter
Director: George C Wolfe
Negotiating a movie with a disease is no easy task.
But given that director George C Wolfe was involved in Angels in America and won a Tony for his direction, this story about Hilary Swank's Kate and her battle with ALS would appear to be in safe hands.
Prim and proper, with her life fully in control and her marriage to Josh Duhamel's Evan perfectly happy, Swank's Kate finds everything upended when she's diagnosed with the incurable disease ALS, the first signs of which rear their head on her birthday.
18 months later, and the pair is forced to find a full-time caregiver to help - which is where the impulsive college student Bec (Shameless star Emmy Rossum) comes in. Initially seeming like a polar opposite to the order they need in their lives, Kate insists on hiring her - even though she's no experience and appears to be a train wreck herself.
Instinctively, the duo form a bond which moves sensitively and inevitably towards its conclusion.
You're Not You has moments of mawkishness and twinkling piano music, designed to elicit tears from the most cynical given the subject matter. There are also moments of manipulation as the predictable inevitability of the disease plays out.
But yet, among all of that, there's a powerhouse of a performance from Swank, whose measured control as Kate imbues this potentially telemovie story with a dignity and sensitivity that's hard to deny.
Sure, there are the bumps in the road that you can see coming a mile off (Rossum's rough and ready Bec clashes with all around her except Kate; Swank's perfect veneer masks the guilt of knowing peoples' lives will be affected by her illness; Duhamel's Evan falls spectacularly as expected but remains likeable) but the strength of the acting pulls the piece out of worn-out and over-used tropes, designed to see you delving into the Kleenex.
(Though that isn't to say that those moments occasionally rankle, thanks to over-used signposting and cliche)
At the end of the day, You're Not You does exactly what you'd expect - and while the sentimental gloop is poured on thickly about two thirds into the piece, George C Wolfe's restrained direction, combined with Swank and Rossum's effortlessly plausible bond, give the film the power it needs to just rise above some of the mawkishness that threatens to pull it down into telemovie territory.