Despite pat characters and a melodrama problem, "My Life Without Me" looks at some fundamental issues of humanity through the eyes of a dying woman who wants to get something out of her final weeks on earth.
The highlights of the film come when Ann reflects on life from her two perspectives — as a working-class mom and as a dying working-class mom.
Male writers are often judged on their ability or inability to "write women," and the converse is true here.
If you knew you only had a couple of months to live, which aspects of life would you take most seriously and which would fall away into irrelevance?
Walking past aisles full of consumer goods that she never could afford on her night janitor's salary, she notes how little they mean when you're not going to live to use them. The film's feminine sensibility is so pervasive that one doubts Coixet's ability to write male characters.

We can imagine ourselves in Ann's place and learn something from her perspective about what is truly important in life when every day is precious. Yet, she knows that her daughters will continue singing commercial jingles and lusting for the material products they extol when she, with her heightened sense of focus, is not there to guide them.
Hubby Don ("Felicity" hunk Scott Speedman) is affectionate, sexy, supportive, and only momentarily unemployed after the local factory shuts down. Having spent all of her young life working and raising children, she realizes that she now faces some primal questions.
Writer-director Isabel Coixet struggled to give Ann's two daughters even the slightest imperfection — one of them gives the other one a backhanded slight once or twice.
And in the plot element that works least, Ann meets her fling interest, Lee (mediocre-movie veteran Mark Ruffalo), in a laundromat.

And to find a perfect new wife for Don is no problem — one moves in next door (played by the appealing Leonor Watling, previously seen in a coma in Pedro Almodovar's "Talk to Her") shortly after Ann's diagnosis.
The problem is that Ann has put two goals on her list that sound connected but aren't — one is to sleep with another man besides her husband and the other is to make someone (Lee, naturally) fall in love with her.
Why she needs to spend her last remaining family time breaking some stranger's heart is unclear when her initial goal is just to see what another man is like.

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