Saying goodbye

A woman creates a 'to-do' list for her last months on earth.

From its whimsical title, you might think "My Life Without Me" is a comedy, but most of it is the opposite.

It's a story about facing death at an untimely age, told with the kind of "heart" that's become fashionable again in the season of "Sea- biscuit." I didn't find this endearing in the horse opera, and I don't find it any more appealing in this soap opera.

Sarah Polley plays Ann, a 20-something woman who lives in a trailer park with her husband, Don, and their two young daughters. She thinks she's pregnant again, but her physician has a different diagnosis, telling her she's so ill she has only two or three months to live.

Not wishing to upset her family, Ann keeps her condition a secret.

On her own, however, she makes a list of things she wants to do with her remaining time. Some are sweet, like recording future birthday messages for her daughters. Others are adventurous, like making some man fall in love with her so she can experience sex and romance with someone besides her likable but clueless spouse.

We're meant to find Ann's exploits both funny and sad. If you think about what she's doing, though, it's hard to sympathize with her.

Shouldn't she be honest with Don, so he can prepare himself and the kids for her imminent departure from their lives? And how about the nice new acquaintance who becomes her lover, per her plan? She doesn't spill the beans to him either, setting him up for sure-fire heartbreak when she dies.

The film also rings false in other ways. It's a little too convenient that this gravely ill woman has almost no physical difficulties that others might notice. It's a lot too convenient that a perfect second wife for Don - also named Ann - suddenly moves in next door.

And why doesn't some form of religious faith cross her mind?

In short, this isn't a poignant drama about courage and imagination - it's a contrived fantasy about courage and imagination.

The picture means well, but if viewers react as I did, "My Life Without Me" will be a movie without an audience.

Rated R; contains vulgarity and sexuality.

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