Weekly Wire
Austin Chronicle Me Myself I

By Marc Savlov

MAY 8, 2000: 

D: Pip Karmel; with Rachel Griffiths, David Roberts, Sandy Winton, Trent Sullivan, Yael Stone, Shaun Loseby. (R, 104 min.)

"What if?" remains the ultimate cinematic springboard ­ the ultimate creative springboard, really ­ and this feature debut by Australian director Pip Karmel (the editor of Shine)tackles the "what ifs" that have engulfed thirtysomething women's magazine-writer Pamela Drury (Griffiths). Feted by her co-workers for birthday, but unable to fully enjoy the experience, Pamela instead slogs home, wallowing in self-pity over the one that got away. Only Griffiths could make such mordant self-abuse look so damn appealing; with her crinkly grin and fluttery eyelashes, she's the town tomboy all grown up. It's a rouse, though. Pamela has never quite managed to get over her first true love, Robert (Roberts), a handsome charmer whom she jilted, presumably not long after college. With her past out of reach, her present out of touch ­ for example, she falls for the model-handsome stranger Ben (Winton) only to track down his homestead and spy him with his three kids and wife ­ and her future in some very serious doubt, she's a modern woman adrift in a sea of could've-beens and never-weres. This horrible lot changes, miraculously, when Pamela is struck by a car while walking home. Essentially unscathed by the incident, she turns to the solicitous driver only to find ... herself. Karmel's film never even attempt to explain the nature of the mystical events going on here, and that's probably for the best. Me Myself I, like the 1998 Gwyneth Paltrow vehicle Sliding Doors, offers its heroine a chance to find out what life would have been like if the other road had been taken. In this case that means: "What if" Pamela had married Robert all those years ago? Pamela is thrust into her alter-ego's life, complete with three kids of her own ­ dour teen Stacey (Stone), rude little skateboarder Douglas (Loseby), and painfully cute Rupert (Sullivan) ­ and a marriage from which the spark seems to have been all but smothered. Me Myself I is a post-feminist film where nobody seems to be all that happy ­ men and women ­ but everyone is given a chance to put things right. It's a fairy tale of the purest ray serene, but Griffiths rises above the occasionally cutesy material by sheer virtue of her increasingly profound acting chops. She was great in Muriel's Wedding, and even better in the little-seen Among Giants, but her crowning moment came with last year's Hillary and Jackie, which put her right up there with any intuitive actress you'd care to name. In Me Myself I, she uses flip, almost throwaway glances and body shrugs to great effect ­ she has an amazing comprehension of the subtleties of body language, so that even when her character isn't particularly doing much of anything there's a wealth of emotional information on the screen. This isn't a deep film by any stretch of the imagination, but Griffiths is a such a pro she brings the proceedings up to her level. And as far as that perennial "what if?" it makes for a pleasant enough twist on an old theme.

2.5 Stars

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