BRIDGET JONES would approve. Being unmarried or—in Bridget's parlance—being a Singleton can be just as fulfilling as being a Smug Married. But many single women have a hard time believing that—no matter how well our careers are going or how many self-help books we read. Giving this conflict a fanciful, comic spin, Pip Karmel's breezy Me Myself I nicely captures the respective ups and downs of singlehood and marriage, played out in the life of Pamela Drury (Rachel Griffiths), a successful thirtysomething Australian journalist suffering an acute personal crisis. (That she's writing an article about what girls want out of life is no coincidence.)
ME MYSELF I
directed by Pip Karmel
with Rachel Griffiths, David Roberts, and Sandy Winton
opens April 14 at Guild 45th
The opening scene plays out documentary-style, with a room full of schoolgirls talking about their goals. Be "a super model," says one. "Beauty technician," says another. "Be married and have four kids." Another girl intends to wait for marriage, "but not too long," for fear of ending up like her "desperate" aunt. The message is clear: Females will always dream of being beautiful and married. Later, in one especially poignant moment, Pamela observes a young couple with children on their shoulders. It's a picture-perfect, updated Normal Rockwell scene, and Pamela responds with an expression of utter defeat: She feels like the last single woman alive.
Everything changes when a freak car accident thrusts Pamela into an alternate world in which she stumbles onto a woman who looks exactly like herself. Turns out Pamela 2 lives the suburban dream with all its trappings: marriage, two children, a house, and a minivan. Pamela 1 finds herself having to substitute as mother and wife while Pamela 2 takes off. That the film doesn't devolve into typical schlocky romantic comedy is largely due to Griffiths, who is better known for more dramatic roles. Oscar-nominated for her beautifully subtle supporting role in 1998's Hilary and Jackie, Griffiths brings the same sincere, down-to-earth presence to Me. She makes her character far more believable than similar romantic comedy heroines played by veterans like Meg Ryan and Julia Roberts (think Hanging Up or Runaway Bride).
Karmel's script may be predictable, but it still has plenty of funny, touching lines. Hardly a ground-breaking feminist work, Me Myself I is good for a girls' night out at the movies, providing a happy ending that doesn't depend upon a wedding.
Although based down under in Sydney, Australia, Rachel Griffiths is well accustomed to acting in both hemispheres. "It's the normal course of being an Australian actor to do a lot of British, American, and Irish theater," she explains while visiting Seattle to promote Me Myself I. Moreover, she adds, her wandering across time zones gives her a facility with accents, "which is why I think Australians are so good at them, like Mel [Gibson], Cate [Blanchett], Nicole [Kidman]." So will she settle in Hollywood as those Aussie stars have done? "Well, I have too much of a life in two other countries [Australia and Britain]," she answers. "That's enough for a girl, I think." Does the busy 31-year-old actress then identify with her Me Myself I character's career and family conflicts? "Well, I've always dreamed of having marriage and family," she admits, "but it's not really like a pizza, is it? You can't just order it when you want. And career success is wonderful, but it doesn't equal personal fulfillment, and that's the crisis that Pamela faces. I'm lucky in that as an actress, I can take six months off and catch up with my friends." After Me Myself I, Griffiths will next appear opposite Johnny Depp in Ted Demme's Blow.