Reviews

If Only

3

This light-hearted, time-twisting tale offers the flip-side to this year's hit rom-com Sliding Doors. Only it's the man who's given a chance to live an alternative life. But while Sliding Doors simply emphasised the role coincidence can play in life, If Only adopts a far more magical stance.

It also boasts a strong Spanish influence: the writer, director, producer and most of the crew hail from sunny España, while pivotal roles go to Spanish cast members. The London setting appears almost Mediterranean, shot in sepia tones with flashes of vivid red. In the most memorable scene, when Victor is transported back in time, the "dustmen" take him to a gutted warehouse, full of glittering junk. Here, all of London's rubbish has become treasure and Victor's astonishment at the sight makes the magic that follows all the more believable.

There's also a varied female cast, although only Headey's character is fully developed. Supporting roles, like McGovern's barmaid and Cruz's aspiring novelist, are initially intriguing but sketched a little too thinly.

It's Henshall's character, however, that causes If Only to stumble. His sad, beset, unemployed actor requires the most strongly sympathetic response, but is the least appealing of the on-screen bunch. Instead of coming across as a modern Don Juan, he's pathetic and undeserving of his desired woman. Fortunately, though, this doesn't totally scupper a compellingly different and beguiling romance.

Verdict:

An original romantic comedy with a magical spark and some stylish visual imagery that mark it out from the rest of the slush-soaked pack. But it's let down by a weak male central character who's neither endearing nor desirable.

Film Details

  • 15
  • UK Theatrical Release Date: November 27th 1998

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