A directionless Rom-Com Big on Laughs and Not Much Else
If you’ve ever wondered how a film could turn cancer into a comedic subject, look no further. Irreplaceable You is Netflix’s latest romantic comedy that gravitates around the perfect couple Abbie (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Sam (Michiel Huisman) receiving the worst news – Abbie has life threatening cancer and may well die. With minimal characterisation for Sam and a questionable plot following this bombshell announcement, Irreplaceable You lacks a decisive vision for much of the 90 minute run time. Thanks to the supporting cast the film is surprisingly funny with many moments of dry wit and sarcastic humour overpowering the overarching story and its here that the film excels. When Irreplaceable You slips back into the more dramatic and heart-pulling moments, the film fails to deliver the emotional punch needed to execute such a tear-jerking climax.
The films opens with Abbie and Sam as children where Abbie proclaims that her and Sam are destined to be together forever. Fast forward to adult life and the couple are happily living together and acting like any other romantic couple. That is, until Abbie is told she has aggressive cancer that’s likely to end her life and consequently cut short her and Sam’s relationship. Instead of gravitating the film around a heartwarming message of making the most of what little time we have on this planet, Abbie begins monopolising Sam’s life, mapping out his path after she’s passed away. Most of this includes finding another woman to take care of him and setting Sam up on dates. The erratic behaviour is passed off as a coping strategy for the cancer but it comes across as controlling which ironically is the one trait that dominates Abbie’s persona through the film. It doesn’t help either that Sam lacks any sort of characterisation or emotional connection to the audience, making it difficult to really empathise or get on his side as he lackadaisically goes ahead with whatever Abbie suggests for his future until near the end of the film.
Tonally, Irreplaceable You is a little all over the place too. The film struggles to deliver anything other than laughs through most of the run time which offsets the sad undertone around cancer and loss. Although the use of humour is good and helps to avoid the film falling into a depressing, tear-filled romance like The Fault In Our Stars (which there’s nothing wrong with by the way), it also overpowers the picture, diluting the impact of the misery and drama late on in the film. It’s a real shame too as there’s certainly potential here for a touching story but its lost in a lack of characterisation and a really bizarre, questionable plot that never really goes anywhere.
Irreplaceable You isn’t the worst film released in 2018 but it’s certainly not anywhere near the best. The questionable plot development, lack of characterisation and far too much humour make Irreplaceable You one of the most tonally confused films released this year. With more care in the editing and a slightly reworked script to incorporate some personality for Sam and a more sombre tone, perhaps the film could have been a hit but as it stands, Irreplaceable You is a story of ifs and buts, lacking any sort of emotional punch when the credits roll at the end of the film.