If I Were You (2012)

Were

Clunky, well acted comedy that suffers from a questionable story, unrealistic characters, and a running time that just goes on and on. But it’s funny, and most of the acting is really great, and not just from lead Marcia Gay Harden but also Leonor Watling who does so much with what you initially figure will be a pretty shallow role. And man is she sexy.

The plot is ridiculous, though. The premise alone is just so unrealistic and idiotic and totally lost me right from the get go. I mean, come on. There’s no way. It’s an interesting conflict, but no, no, never. Would never happen, not in a million years. You can tell the writer of the film trained as a playwright just from how certain things develop; it’s certainly well crafted within its own weird little universe, with every plot twist upping the stakes further until the tension practically explodes on-screen. But what may work on stage may not necessarily work on-screen, and what may look good on the page, which I imagine this script does, may not always translate into a good, coherent film, which this film definitely does not. So, well crafted, but still a mess. I didn’t think such a thing were possible, but there you go.

The editing and overall tone are also off. Some scenes just go on way too long, with way too much pointless, inane dialogue, especially near the middle. Again, very well crafted, but such scenes just overstay their welcome far too often. And the scenarios presented felt really forced at times, especially the whole ridiculous **SPOILERS** theater subplot that comes out of nowhere and ends up saving all of them in the end? What?!? And how the hell do two people, one of whom isn’t even an actor, manage to give such brilliant Shakespearean performances after only a few weeks of rehearsal? Especially after one of them is repeatedly labeled a terrible actress by everyone around her? **END SPOILERS** It doesn’t make any sense! A good idea, but terribly, terribly implemented. And that’s just the worst of many such horribly forced, utterly implausible scenarios littering this film. Ugh.

Overall, yeah, not a great film. Choppy and all over the place, and inconsistent. But at least the acting is really good, especially from Watling who does a hell of a job with what little she’s initially given. Not sure who she is or where she came from, but she’s great. The film is extremely feminine, and unapologetically so, for better and worse. But mostly for worse. It was also clearly written and directed by someone with a great deal of theatrical experience, hence the great acting, ridiculous yet well structured plot, and excessive, dialogue heavy scenes. It tells rather than shows, just like a play would, but, again, what might work in a play may not necessarily work in a film.

So, not the worst film in the world, but nothing great. Also, terrible, terrible title.

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