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Movie Review: 'Me Myself I'

Friday, April 28, 2000

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

As Pamela Drury flosses her teeth, she recites the pithy pick-me-ups posted on her bathroom mirror. "I love and approve of myself. ... I deserve the best and I accept the best," she says, although it's clear she doesn't believe it.

'Me Myself I'

RATING: R for sexuality, partial nudity, some language

STARRING: Rachel Griffiths

DIRECTOR: Pip Karmel


CRITIC'S CALL: 3 stars


Pamela is a well-traveled, successful magazine writer with a raft of awards for thoughtful articles on important subjects such as teen suicide. But she gobbles milk and cereal for dinner, owns an apartment littered with unpacked boxes and goes on a blind date that ends with her at home, alone, drinking booze out of the bottle and picking through old photos and regrets.

She comes across a snapshot of Robert Dickson, whom she calls Mr. Right, and wonders why she let him go. In "Me Myself I," an ingenious comedy starring Rachel Griffiths, Pamela gets a chance to see and live what might have been.

She is struck by a car and when she comes to, she's joined by Pamela Two -- the version who married Robert (David Roberts) 13 years ago, had three children and settled in the suburbs. In most movies about alternate universes, the characters never meet, but here the two compare notes in the suburban kitchen. But then Pamela Two disappears, leaving the single working woman with the married woman's life.

She now has an adolescent daughter with maroon streaks in her hair, an ill-mannered son with the habit of calling her "Dumbhead" and an angelic 4-year-old boy who hasn't quite gotten the hang of using the bathroom alone. And then there's Robert, who is now an architect, plus a dog and an SUV.

Although Pamela initially basks in her suburban sunniness, she begins to find the cracks in the seemingly perfect life. But can Pamela return to her old life? Does she even want to? What about the surprising revelations about Pamela Two that keep popping up?

"Me Myself I," opening today at the Regent Square, was written and directed by Australian Pip (short for Philippa) Karmel, who was nominated for an Oscar for editing "Shine." Griffiths also was an Oscar nominee, for her supporting work in "Hilary and Jackie" although she lost to Judi Dench from "Shakespeare in Love."

Let's face it. "Hilary and Jackie" was Emily Watson's movie; she had the far showier role of British cellist Jacqueline Du Pre, a prodigy who developed multiple sclerosis. This time, Griffiths is given room to breathe and occupy the screen for virtually the entire 100-odd minutes. There are only three scenes in which she does not appear.

Providing solid support are Roberts and Sandy Winton as two of the men in the picture, plus Yael Stone, Shaun Loseby and Trent Sullivan as the three children.

Karmel, who could be speaking for a generation of women, says she grew up hearing how important it was to get an education, have a career and be independent. And then someone changed the signals on her; family shot to the top of the to-do list. What's a girl to do?

Unlike some of the other parallel universe stories, such as "Sliding Doors," it's the Pamelas who provide the illumination here. The men in the picture factor in, but they're not the reason why one life is more suitable than the other. The ending of "Me Myself I" is a bit of a cheat, although the seed for it is planted early on.

If ever a movie were made for a girls' night out, this is it. Karmel has tapped into a rich vein of material here: single women in their 30s who can't quite let go of the past, who wonder if they made the right choices years ago, who search for the source of happiness. If you can derive happiness from a good, if not terribly deep, movie, with kicky songs, this is made for you. And yourself.

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