Life in the Middle Lane 

*Me Myself I (R)
Sony Pictures Classics

A few weeks ago, a successful and beautiful friend of mine confessed that, despite a happy marriage and two lovely children, she pined for the days in her mid-20s "when I could wake up and not be accountable to anyone for anything. I had no idea how free I was, and I can never go back."

Then last week I spoke to another successful and beautiful friend (woe is me, I have a lot of friends like that), a lesbian, who is spending loads of money and time and anxiety trying to get pregnant. "I'm afraid that time is running out," she said. "I'm going to miss something important."

Now that I've reached my mid-30s, I've noticed my peers falling into roughly two groups. There are those of us who have taken the procreation route and spend our lives running from pillar to post with never a moment to ourselves; then there are those of us who remain single and childless, free, but often with too much time alone. We look at each other across the abyss, each secretly wondering if the other group has gotten the best deal.

In Me Myself I, Pamela Drury (Rachel Griffiths) gets a chance to find out. Pamela is a successful single woman, an award-winning journalist who spends her Friday nights alone in her apartment looking over photographs of old boyfriends. "Misogynist," she says to one. "Coward," to another. "Commitmentphobe," to another. Then she reaches Robert Dickson. "Oh, Robert," she sighs, "why did I ever let you go?"

Lucky Pamela gets an opportunity to find out what life would have been like with Robert when she's hit by a car driven by herself and finds herself meeting herself in a parallel world where she's married to Robert and has three kids. Her new days are spent wiping dirty bottoms, doing laundry and writing for a vacuous women's magazine. Her nights are spent catching up on some very good sex.

Me Myself I is a great vehicle for Griffiths, who is a terrific comic actress. Griffiths is able to sustain long sequences that writer/director Philippa Karmel wisely created without dialogue -- I laughed so hard at the two scenes of Pamela trying to insert an unfamiliar diaphragm that I embarrassed myself. (A word to the wise: if you don't want your lover to see the hilarious indignities of the female side of reproduction, don't take him.) Griffiths has mastery of such a wide range of expression that you can watch her all day long and never see the same move twice. First-time director Karmel directs Griffiths with assurance and allows her plenty of screen time and space to strut her stuff.

As a lightweight romantic comedy, Me Myself I fulfills all the requisite expectations of the genre: It isn't too serious, it is funny and fresh, and everyone ends up feeling like they're left with the best deal. If we can't feel so sanguine about our own lives, well, that's why they make movies.


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