Ann (Polley), a 23-year-old mother, lives in a trailer in Vancouver. She works nights as a janitor, while her slightly complacent but sweet husband Don (Speedman) - the first man she ever kissed - is often unemployed. Mum (Harry) is interminably gloomy, dad is in jail. Her life is unglamorous and routine, but loving, pragmatic Ann is resigned to it. When she discovers she has inoperable cancer and only months to live, she determines, at last, to make some choices. Deciding to keep her illness secret, she makes a 'things to do' list. What follows ranges from the altruistic (finding a potential wife for Don) to the self-indulgent (an affair with a poetic loner, the endearing Ruffalo). Coixet presents a different take on the cancer weepie by avoiding easy manipulation. Her thoughtful film initially seems almost too underplayed to achieve empathy with the characters, while Ann's over-explicit voice-over jars. Conversely, a fantasy sequence is overstated. And could Ann really hide cancer? Despite all this, the film offers a humane, non-judgmental look at relationships and, through the image of a woman courageously embracing love and life, a poignant reminder to cherish small pleasures and tender moments. (From Nanci Kincaid's novel Pretending the Bed Is a Raft.
Cast and crew
Maria de Medeiros