If Only Review

Victor (Henshall) is a far from perfect man. So much so that confessing his drunken one night stand to his girlfriend (Heady) is the final straw and she leaves him for another man. Given a second chance by some supernatural dustmen, Victor endeavours to become the perfect man, but soon realises that this may be impossible, however hard he tries.

by Nick Griffiths |
Published on
Release Date:

27 Nov 1998

Running Time:

93 minutes



Original Title:

If Only

From the mainstream (Ghost, Always) to the arthouse (Orphee), to the frankly ludicrous (Ghosts Can't Do It), movies have long been fascinated with the melding of romance and the supernatural. Part Groundhog Day, part Four Weddings And A Funeral, and spinning on an Anglo-Spanish axis, If Only takes up the crossover genre challenge and comes up with an entertaining but rather uneven slice of hokum.

Victor (Henshall) is a belligerent, out-of-work, actor whose one-night stand and subsequent confession have driven ex-girlfriend Silvia (Headey) into an engagement with Dave (Mark Strong). Following some acts of desperation -slashing Dave's tyres, showering Silvia with flowers, having run-ins with her best friend Alison (Charlotte Coleman) - Victor becomes wracked by guilt then wrecked by booze. Indeed, following one alcohol-sodden session, he stumbles into the street and contemplates suicide. Yet, in the proverbial nick of time, he is rescued by two eccentric dustmen who give Victor the chance to replay his life from the start of his affair. Reconciled with Silvia, he finds his previous vitality gone as he struggles against fate trying at the second attempt to be the perfect man he never was.

This may be a simple story - a man finds his true identity through a touch of supernatural with a side order of heartbreak - but it is the vigour, excitement and energy which first-time director Ripoli brings to the material that raises If Only above average. Although the conceits deployed here are familiar, they are woven into a vast and thoroughly entertaining blanket of laugh-out-loud moments and some quite brilliant comedic acting from Henshall.

The second half does drag somewhat and the script teeters on the precipice of absurdity at times, but overall, bolstered by sterling performances from the principals, If Only emerges as a well crafted and enjoyable film.
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