×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Irreplaceable You’

A dying woman tries to plan her fiancé’s future love life in Stephanie Laing’s implausible Netflix romantic drama.

Director:
Stephanie Laing
With:
Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michiel Huisman, Steve Coogan, Tim Simons, Jacki Weaver, Kate McKinnon, Christopher Walken, Brian Tyree Henry, Merritt Wever.
Release Date:
Feb 16, 2018

1 hour 36 minutes

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6119856/

Gugu Mbatha-Raw is a charming actress who radiates poise and intelligence, which is why “Irreplaceable You” — in which her character acts in ways that are clearly self-destructive and counterproductive — rings so false. Director Stephanie Laing’s tragic love story concerns a woman who, shortly after her engagement, learns that she’s dying, a diagnosis that compels her to set out on a quest to find a new partner for her fiancé. The fatal-amour drama that ensues is too ludicrous to elicit tears, and though its cast of well-known stars may initially make it an attractive option on Netflix (where it’s exclusively premiering), its long-term prognosis is dire.

Self-possessed Abbi (Mbatha-Raw) and science nerd Sam (Michiel Huisman) have been together since a childhood class trip to an aquarium, during which Abbi — mimicking the courtship behavior of the monogamous Deep Sea Angler fish — violently bit Sam in the shoulder. Decades later, they’re living together in Manhattan and set to be married, as well as expecting a child. Their excitement, however, soon turns to horrified grief when they’re informed by physicians that Abbi is not, in fact, pregnant; the mass in her stomach is a giant cancerous tumor. While quality-of-life treatment options are available, survival is not a possibility.

Faced with such earth-shattering news, Abbi cancels her fitness club membership, starts getting chemo courtesy of a blunt-talking specialist (Timothy Simons of “Veep”), and begins attending a support group where crocheting is used as a means of coping with terminal illness. Among the unhappy kooks she encounters there are Kate (Kate McKinnon) and Myron (Christopher Walken), the latter of whom informs her that Sam will soon be entering a major “slut faze” — a comment that rocks Abbi and inspires her to start planning for her socially inept beau’s forthcoming love life without her.

When not teaching him how to do laundry, Abbi secretly creates OK Cupid profiles and interviews prospective mates for Sam — this despite the sound objections of Myron, who quickly becomes her BFF. Though Bess Wohl’s script initially posits Abbi as a Type-A personality, it all plays like a contrivance, since Mbatha-Raw comes across as far too astute to not realize she’s sacrificing her present with her paramour for a future she can’t control. That Abbi, wracked by confused, tumultuous emotions, might feel the urge to lessen Sam’s loss (via a process Myron dubs “anticipatory grieving”) is natural; that she’d waste all her time on this futile scheme seems like the stuff of outlandish movie fantasy.

Abbi’s plot eventually leads to involvement with a local photographer (Gayle Rankin), but by that point, “Irreplaceable You” has long since lost touch with reality. More frustratingly, it fails to strike a proper tone, as most evidenced by McKinnon’s performance, which exists uneasily between cartoonish and somber, and winds up feeling simply off-key. That said, the actress still fares better than Steve Coogan, whose support leader is so blandly defined that he doesn’t even merit a proper name.

Mbatha-Raw and Huisman’s cute yin-yang chemistry can’t offset the proceedings’ raft of implausibilities (like Abbi and Myron spying on Sam with binoculars), and Laing’s fondness for shooting the duo at dusk alongside the Hudson River and on rooftops which, coupled with Leslie Barber’s generic sweet-but-sad score, leads to monotony. The story of a dying woman who learns to cherish what she has while she still can, “Irreplaceable You” uses an assortment of slight incidents to impart a lesson that, from the outset, is patently obvious to everyone except the too-dim-to-be-believed person for whom it’s intended.

Film Review: ‘Irreplaceable You’

Reviewed online, Stamford, Conn., Feb. 12, 2018. Running time: 96 MIN.

Production: A Netflix release of An Ace Prod. and A PYPO, Radcliffe and Tropper Ink Prod. in association with Opposite Field Pictures. Producers: Jonathan Tropper, Farah Abushwesha, Brian Robbins, Matt Kaplan, Stephanie Laing. Executive producers: Christie Colliopoulos, Bess Wohl, Buzz Koenig, Matthew Meyers. Co-producer: Michelle Ganeless.

Crew: Director: Stephanie Laing. Screenplay: Bess Wohl. Camera (color, widescreen, HD): Magdalena Gorka. Editor: Dierdre Slevin. Music: Leslie Barber.

With: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michiel Huisman, Steve Coogan, Tim Simons, Jacki Weaver, Kate McKinnon, Christopher Walken, Brian Tyree Henry, Merritt Wever.

More Film

  • Juliette Binoche Slack Bay

    Juliette Binoche Named Jury President of 2019 Berlin Film Festival

    Oscar-winning French actress Juliette Binoche will preside over the main jury at the 2019 Berlin Film Festival. Binoche is known worldwide for her work in such films as “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” and “Chocolat.” She won an Academy Award and a Silver Bear in Berlin for her role in Anthony Minghella’s “The English Patient,” [...]

  • Eklektik, Alba, Aramos Set Ventana Sur

    Ventana Sur: Belgium's Eklektik, Italy's Alba, Argentina's Aramos Co-Produce 'The Veil' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Belgian film house Eklektik Productions is teaming with Italy’s Alba Produzioni and Argentina’s Aramos Cine to co-produce Stefano Pasetto’s feature drama project “El velo” (The Veil). “The Veil” was presented at September’s San Sebastian Co-Production Forum and then chosen for pitching at the upcoming Proyecta showcase, a new joint initiative launched by Argentine film-TV market [...]

  • Ventana Sur: Latido Films Acquires Hari

    Ventana Sur: Latido Swoops on ‘This Is Not Berlin’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    BUENOS AIRES — In the first deal to be announced on a title in Ventana Sur’s three live-action feature competitions, Madrid-based Latido Films, headed by Antonio Saura, has acquired world rights outside Mexico on Hari Sama’s Copia Final contender “This Is Not Berlin.” Latido’s buy, celebrated with a handshake at Ventana Sur, effectively re-calibrates the [...]

  • Storyboard Media Announce David Albala’s ‘Viento

    Storyboard Media Announce David Albala’s ‘Viento Blanco’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Chile’s Storyboard Media has announced an agreement to co-produce, along with Calibre71, Javier Valdés and Benjamin Vicuña, director David Albala’s second feature, “Viento Blanco.” (“White Wind”) Albala’s debut, “Jailbreak Pact,” turned on a dramatic real-life prison-break which took place in Santiago, Chile in 1990. That film was also produced by Calibre 71, and featured Chilean [...]

  • C International Sales, Pablo Solarz Ink

    C International Sales Inks Sales Representation Deal with Argentina’s Pablo Solarz (EXCLUSIVE)

    Argentina’s Pablo Salarz, one of Latin America’s best-known film and TV writer-directors, has entered a non-exclusive financing relationship with C International Sales, the international arm of Cinestaan Film Company. Although non-exclusive, the deal is an early example of international companies moving to court or tie-down key talent in Latin America. The deal was negotiated by C International [...]

  • Director’s Feature Debut Paints Dark Comic

    Cuba’s Marcos Diaz Sosa Delivers ‘Shock’ to Ventana Sur

    A disenchanted young pregnant woman is afraid of getting stuck in the small Cuban town where she lives. But when a tornado whisks her away to a luxury resort – where her competitive shooting skills turn her into a celebrity amongst the island’s Communist elite – she comes to realize, like a Hollywood heroine of [...]

  • Alan Moore's 'The Show' to Star

    First Look: Alan Moore's 'The Show,' Starring Tom Burke

    The first look image has been released from British independent movie “The Show,” based on an original story by graphic novel creator Alan Moore, best known for “Watchmen,” “V for Vendetta,” “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” and “From Hell.” The cast is led by Tom Burke, whose credits include “War and Peace,” “The Souvenir” and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content