Irreplaceable You (2018)

  • Time: 96 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Drama | Romance
  • Director: Stephanie Laing
  • Cast: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michiel Huisman, Kate McKinnon


A couple who have known each other since 8 are destined to be together until death do them apart.

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  • Letting go is hard to do, especially when it’s letting go of someone whom you’ve loved almost your entire life. That’s the case with Abbie (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Sam (Michiel Huisman), the lovers of the tearjerking romance, Irreplaceable You.

    Abbie and Sam have been together ever since they were children on a field trip to the aquarium and she laid claim to him by biting him on the shoulder as the monogamous Deep Sea Angler fish do when they meet their lifelong mate. Decades later, they’re celebrating their engagement in front of family and friends. To add to the happiness, they reveal that Abbie is pregnant. Except what she thought was a baby growing inside of her is actually a malignant tumour. Whilst surgery and post-surgical treatment can offer relief and a relatively good quality of life, there’s no getting around the fact that Abbie is living on extremely borrowed time.

    As Abbie begins her chemo with an amusingly direct male nurse (Timothy Simons) and joins a support group headed up by Mitch (Steve Coogan) and attended by Kate (Kate McKinnon) and Myron (Christopher Walken), she decides to start preparing Sam for a life without her. The main focus of her preparations, which include teaching him how to do laundry, is finding him a suitable future partner. Though there’s potential material to be mined here – what if Sam likes this future partner more than he likes Abbie? – screenwriter Bess Wohl and director Stephanie Laing don’t delve too deeply. The filmmakers’ main goal seems to be not get too mired down by the usual tropes of this particular genre, but there are times when their light and darkly humorous approach becomes tonally dissonant. This is particularly evident during the group sessions where gallows humour dominates, but the characters are so one-note and unformed that they come off as white noise.

    That aside, Irreplaceable You works as an unabashed weepie. This is primarily due to the warm and believable chemistry between Mbatha-Raw and Huisman. The latter actually manages to convince as an absent-minded professor type, but the former truly shines and one once again wishes that she would be given more substantial material like Belle and Beyond the Lights that are worthy of her talents.

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