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The name of the film under study is “If Only”, it was released in 2004, and its director is Gil Junger with Christina Welsh as the writer, while the major actors are Jennifer Love Hewitt, Paul Nicholls, and Tom Wilkinson all of whom are famous Hollywood actors. The movie plot revolves around what turns out as a tragedy to teach Ian, a young entrepreneur, to put his work behind and instead concentrate on his love to Samantha, a musician girlfriend.
The genre of the film is romance and similar to many other movies that I have watched in the past; for instance, The Romantics and You Again among others. The audience for this film is persons of age twenty-five and above, who are active economically, yet to settle down. Looking into the gender perspective, it targets males in love, but they value their economic occupations more than they cherish their lovers. I find the movie interesting and that is why I have chosen it for the review.
Some say that love is blind in the sense that it does not consider what we consider in terms of businesses we do, our financial status, and to some extent, our physique. However, no matter how often this statement is repeated in the ears of an individual in love, some people feel inferior in the situation by looking more into themselves. This assertion refers to an individual looking into his or her current situation and forgetting what he or she is going to become in the future.
The movie shows a young man afraid of opening up to his girlfriend due to the fear that he would make losses in business, and thus he chooses to stay with her as a girlfriend. The pressure is building in the girl’s mind as she gets convinced that her boyfriend is hiding from her. However, I do find the movie interesting as the love game despite being too obvious in real life and has something attractive to someone who has heard or experienced such life experiences in life.
General Plot Summary
This love game involves a renowned violin musician girl, Samantha Andrews, who falls in deep love with a busy British entrepreneur, Ian, and both get into a relationship. However, the young man seems not to concentrate on love affairs, and instead he takes much of his time in business affairs.
On the other hand, Samantha feels cold love reciprocation between Ian and her. Unfortunately, Ian seems to be afraid of opening up to her for he fears to lose in business, which is his greatest treasure. For a long time, Ian continues to concentrate on his business to a point where Samantha cannot bear it any longer, and she decides to interfere with his attention. She goes to his work place and unfortunately crashes into a meeting, thus causing an unexpected interruption.
According to the review by Scott Weinberg of DVD Talk, the movie has a disturbing screen play at this scene because pictures are not very clear and the actions take place in haste. Weinberg would open his review on a rather derailing note when he says, “If Only this weren’t one of the sappiest, stupidest, silliest, and most vacuously meaningless romantic comedies I’ve ever had the misfortune to waste 96 minutes of my life upon” (Weinberg).
Samantha and Ian are then seen getting out of the building while quarreling at each other in a manner likely to suggest that each one of them is fed up with the relationship and is ready for a break up as the only possible solution. Unfortunately, a car comes from nowhere and Samantha is knocked down to death. Samantha reappears a day after and now Ian has the confidence to tell of his great love towards her.
Evaluation of the Film
The film work, just like other literature works, is the mirror of society. However, not all film genres can be used as the mirror of the society, but romantics are part of those that should reflect real-life events, but some dramatic episodes can be applied to create humor, as is the case in this film.
The writer, Christina Welsh, seems to have put fictitious dramatic episodes in a romantic film, which has adverse effects to the entire film work though they add value in creating tension and humor to the audience. As Nix of Beyond Hollywood notes, the majority of movie critics do not rate “If Only” as one of the best rated as it “does follow a somewhat predictable course, and the three main characters (Samantha, Ian, and Lucy Davenport as Samantha’s best friend) are not exactly unique creations in the world of cinema” (Nix).
Judge Bill Gibron of DVD Verdict criticizes the movie writer for putting numerous useless conversations. He laments, “If only If Only hadn’t been filled with so much cutesy crap conversational repartee” (Gibron), perhaps the cast would be a little bit better. Richard Mann of 4 out of 10 criticizes the decision by the producer to cast Jennifer Love Hewitt as the main protagonist in the romantic fantasy.
He says, “I just don’t see why this woman deserves to be known this well” (Mann). Perhaps, she was not a suitable character for that role due to her ill performance in other British films that she did not offer a commendable contribution (Gibron). Such films include the famous TV show, the Party of Five (Nix).
According to Gibson, the first thirty minutes of the film are credibly well done as Ian is seen to be in love with this attractive musician as the two become romantic. They seem to enjoy each other’s company and their attraction renders them into staying together before the situation changes dramatically (Gibron). The movie script is capable of arousing tension in the audience until towards the end, where the fictitious episode of Samantha’s apparition and reconciliation with Ian ruins the entire film work.
From other critics, the movie is very unattractive as its plot sends a bad message to the potential audience. Its bad script writing seems to be its major weakness. However, the film has strong themes and is capable of driving the point home to the young men who wait for too long before opening up to their loved ones for fear of losing their wealth or living a poor life after settling down.
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The acting review
The acting was well orchestrated as the actors played their part according to the script. However, actors are supposed to highlight their creativity and mood variations all through the movie scenes. Looking into the protagonists, Samantha (Jennifer Love Hewitt) and Ian (Paul Nicholls), the two made great acting although Samantha was seen to exaggerate the anger through extreme mood variations, which could be due to personality dominating her character.
The majority of critics hold different negative views about Samantha and as discussed above, we find Gibron criticizing her for her average performance in the previous film works such as in the Party of Five, where she acted in the TV for a long time. I agree with Gibson as her appearance in this film causes the audience to make judgments based on her past acting and performance. On the other hand, judging her charitably, I would disregard her past performance in other films as they have little to do with the events in “If Only”.
Hence, the film is well cast and acted, but the biggest problem comes from the script writing. On the other hand, a good actor is required to consider the view from the audiences’ perspective and edit the script, which seems not to have worked well, and hence the critics of bad acting are justified when judging this film.
Directing and Editing
The movie editing was not well done because the disturbing fictitious episode, which created a negative reaction from majority critics, ought to have been edited in a better way than it was presented. However, the director did a good job because it runs for a long time enough to enhance the understanding of the script by the audience, but the story is too shallow for such a long time (92 minutes). Consequently, junk conversations and unnecessary long scenes were inevitable in the movie.
Camera work was averagely well done as at the beginning, shoulder viewpoints are used against Samantha to make her appear attractive. However, at the accident scene, the work-eye camera angle created an appearance of “unnecessary superiority against Ian who was then in sorrowful mood. David Nusair of Reel Film Reviews notes, “If Only is worth a look solely for the endlessly engaging lead performances” (Nusair). Hence, the director ought to have done it better than that.
The Art Direction
The costuming, the lighting, and the overall art setting of the movie were credibly done. We see Ian adorned in official apparel mostly, thus describing his personality as a serious businessperson.
On the other hand, Samantha is seen dressed casually, which is a complete contrast to her boyfriend, Ian. Casual dressing describes her as a person who loves fun and entertainment, which she does in her music career. The lighting is also effective as beautiful scenes are well lit. Jordan Carter of IMDb notes that this film is a “very romantic, beautifully shot film” (Carter).
In the final part where the two are reconciling, we see a beautiful background of the black house roofs, which depicts that the actors are at a higher ground level and the weather seems soothing for such a scene. However, some scenes are presented poorly. In most cases where Ian battles with the confusion of love for Samantha, bright light is often used, but poorly used when he is talking to the taxi driver, Tom Wilkinson, who advises him to appreciate the love for Samantha, as is the only thing that she deserves more from him.
“If Only” is an average movie with great potential of emerging a better movie if revisited when looked into both qualities of a smart movie and a reflection of real-life events, but very interesting when looked into dramatic and romantic perspective. The script as many opportunities for improvement that can be better utilized before the acting.
The director and the writer should have edited the script before getting into the real action, which seems not to have been done at all, or partially done if happened to have been done. Although critics have a right to criticize movie actors, Samantha (Jennifer Love Hewitt) should not be judged with accordance to her past performances, as she tries to drive the point home through excellent creativity and good presentation in this movie.
Carter, Jordan. “Reviews & Ratings for If Only.” Rev. of imdb.com. IMDb, 25 Oct. 2005. Web. 21 Sept. 2013.
Gibron, Judge. “If Only.” Rev. of dvdverdict.com. DVD Verdict, 29 May 2006. Web 21 Sep. 2013.
If Only. Dir. Gil Junger. Perf. Jennifer Love Hewitt and Paul Nicholls. Intermedia Films, 2004. DVD.
Mann, Richard. “If Only: A DVD movie review Starring Jennifer Love Hewitt.” Rev. of 4outof10.com. 4 out of 10, 29 May 2008.Web. 21 Sep. 2013.
Nix. “If Only (2004) Movie Review.” Rev. of beyondhollywood.com . Beyond Hollywood, 24 Jan. 2005. Web.21 Sep. 2013.
Nusair, David. “If Only.” Re. of reelfilm.com. Reel Film Reviews, 14 May 2006. Web.21 Sep. 2013.
Weinberg, Scott. “If Only.” Rev of dvdtalk.com. DVD Talk, 9 May 2006. Web. 21 Sep. 2013.