Tony Award–winning director George C. Wolfe’s only cinematic effort prior to You’re Not You was the Nicholas Sparks adaptation Nights in Rodanthe. It’s therefore unsurprising his latest film opens with a Sparksian shot of happily married Kate (Hilary Swank) and Evan (Josh Duhamel) making love in the shower. It also sets the tone for the movie’s subsequent derivative nature.
Kate, a successful designer — I think; she has fabric swatches in her office — and former classical pianist, is stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in the first minutes. Fast-forward 18 months, and she’s barely ambulatory, requiring assistance bathing, eating, and just about everything else. Enter Bec (Emmy Rossum), a twentysomething wannabe rock singer with stage fright and absolutely no experience taking care of people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases. Nevertheless, something about Bec convinces Kate to convince Evan to hire her.
What follows is predictable, if disappointing, considering the star power. Kate, as is the nature of all similarly stricken movie protagonists, offers her spiritual salve to everyone, reducing You’re Not You to what feels like an extended plotline involving Rossum’s character from Shameless. Bec is really nothing more than that show’s Fiona Gallagher with a shallower narrative arc.
The most interesting aspects of the film — the real pressures felt by caregivers; popular perception of the severely disabled — are obliterated by the heavy-handed script and Swank’s inspirational bromides. And if you’re still wondering by the third act if Bec will conquer her demons or Evan will be forgiven for his infidelity, go soak your head in an ice bucket.