If Only (2004)
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Emily (Jennifer Love Hewitt) and Peter (Paul Nicholls, British newcomer) are a young couple living together in London. Peter is a British businessman, Emily, an American, is an aspiring singer. The film opens with some sweet, light hearted comedy as we are introduced to the couple. However, when the two have issues many young couples deal with, they are left on a bad note when suddenly tragedy strikes and their relationship is ended. It is very hard to get in to more detail without giving away too much of the film, but let's just say, we are treated to a touching dramatic story of a romance as we see what a unique opportunity could bring and how we should never take for granted what we say or do in relationships because of what can happen in life.
When you run in to a film of this nature, you always wonder about whether the film will try too hard to pull the heart strings to manipulate an emotional reaction, but the movie is so great at avoiding that. The film is genuinely touching with outstanding, intelligent writing, moving and serious with nice sprinkles of humor when appropriate, and very well paced direction. The acting, to me though, is the biggest shocker. I'd never heard of Paul Nicholls before, but he is a very charming presence. Another reviewer mentioned Hugh Grant, and that is spot on. He is a very charismatic young actor and could develop in to a star down the road. Tom Wilkinson, a staple in very strong independent films ("In the Bedroom" being his favorite of mine though "The Full Monty" has always been near the top of my list as well), graces the movie with another good performance in a supporting role. The biggest standout to me though has to be Jennifer Love Hewitt. I've seen a few of her films, and while she was attractive and charismatic at times, I was fairly unimpressed with her ability as she was usually glossy and two dimensional. I had major doubts about her ability to actually be a lead in a good dramatic film, which is why I skipped this before the great festival buzz, but I have to say, she was perfect. Her physical attributes are more subdued in this film, sure she is pretty, but she has to actually carry this film on her skills as an actress and she pulls it off. She shows range, nails some very emotional scenes, and does something that is the key to pulling off this type of role, which is make you care about what happens to her character. Her happiness comes across as genuine, as does her excitement at a major event that occurs in the film, as does her pain. The performances by Hewitt and Nicholls are what make the climax of the film so dramatic and emotional. This film should advance Hewitt's career beyond the type of run of the mill Hollywood fare that she has based her movie career on so far. She shows great potential as a good leading lady in more serious films which, frankly, is the last thing I expected going in to this film.
"If Only" is independently produced, it is not a studio film, which is why it was showing at the festival as it is making the rounds looking for U.S. distribution. As is often the case, these types of films allow the discove ry of great newcomers (Nicholls) and the chance for more established actors to stretch themselves outside their previous mainstream work (Hewitt) in hopes of making a small film that beats out the major studio work with quality in writing, acting and directing and this film has accomplished that goal. I hope that this film finds the success it deserves down the road; it was the surprise, and treat, of the festival for me and many others in attendance. It is a beautiful love story and an extremely effective film at keeping you involved in the development of the characters for the full two hours. Thumbs up from me and keep an eye out for it.
Everyone who knows how to love and wants to learn to love even more should definitely see this film; if you are the type of person who can cry during a film (I never thought I was) then have some Kleenex nearby.
If you find that after viewing this film you do your best to love your partner even more and squeeze the most out of every minute given to you by fate or whatever, then this movie will have opened your eyes in a way similar to how it opened mine.
Ralph, Loving Sandra even more than before
I can just see JLH, as producer, saying, "Let's show how I inspire my students and how much they love me... How sexy my boyfriend thinks I look in my lingerie... How funny I am when I'm nervous and bumbling on and on about why I'm there... And then let's get me singing - with an orchestra, and a chorus!... And then show me singing again! Oh... and don't forget to call in favors and have everyone we know come to IMDb to promote it!"
There is no way that females over 13, or males (of any age) would give this movie an average of 7. For a film about "do-overs" and redemption, (that is also actually funny), you'd be happier seeing Groundhog Day for the umpteenth time, instead of this vanity movie-of-the-week.
What amused me most is that the main characters manage to get up late, have an important business meeting, race around London looking for each other, catch a train on the spur of the moment and climb an unspecified mountain all before 11am. I know Americans think that England is small, but its not that small (and our train service is not that good!).
Which day was that?
Samantha (Jennifer Love Hewitt) is in love with her boyfriend, unfortunately he doesn't pay any attention to her. She is living in London attending school there to be with him. She is a music student and aspiring singer/songwriter. Ian (Paul Nicholls) is wrapped up in his job and is taking her "for Granted". A twist of fate occurs and makes him realize what he has.
Honestly, this is the one of the first times Jennifer Love Hewitt has made an impact on a film. She stands out as a true actor in this production. She also Produced this film, which makes her a force to reckon with in Hollywood. She also lends her vocals to the soundtrack which is worth it. The two songs she performs in the film are wonderful.
English actor Paul Nicholls is a wonderful addition to this cast. He is a breath of fresh air for our films, considering American cinema is plagued by the likes of Nick Cannon and Paul Walker types. Nicholls offers Americans a look at our future Hugh Grant. His performance is considerably good, playing both the "horrible boyfriend" and the "loving boyfriend" within the same film. He never makes you think twice about his integrity or especially his acting.
I recommend this film to anyone who is a Jennifer Love Hewitt fan, or to anyone who is a romantic at heart. This one will get ya'. Director Gil Junger, did a wonderful job and Writer Christina Welsh succeeded as a first time screenwriter. I look forward to any projects they take on in the future.
I also hope that an American company picks this film up for distribution soon.
The writing, acting and directing were all top notch. It was a wonderful film, very moving and touching. Hard for me to believe that anyone would dislike this film. With the movie business being what it is, it's doubtful this film will ever be released in the US, so go out any find the Russian DVD, the only release available as of this date.
A small recap of the movie.
(Jennifer Love Hewitt) plays Samantha a music student and aspiring singer/songwriter & lives with Ian her London based Boyfriend played by(Paul Nicholls} The movie starts of well & eazy but midway through it Samantha & Ian have a fall-out & thats where the wonderful part of the movie hits where a huge twist of fate occurs & the movie really takes of.
I wont go much into that but it's a great story.
Honestly, this by far is Jennifer Love Hewitt best work & i recommend it to all movie fans & Jennifer Love Hewitt fans will love it no doubt.
The message is just simple: If you love someone don't waste time of showing how much you love him or her. On how much you value him or her. And how much you appreciated him or her for being there with you.
The movie was perfect. So if I were you, you find ways and watch the movie. If your into a relationship, you watch it with your sweetheart. Or with you family and friends.
You'll miss one half of your life if you miss the movie.
So long......................"I wanna tell you why i love you...i love you since the first time i saw you. I don't know but you bring love to my life. If not because of you, I am a guy who doesn't know what love is. You taught me what love is and how to love...i love you."
Fortunately we have the gorgeous JLH to compensate, and although not the world's greatest actor she has a charisma and, apparently, a musical ability that makes her watchable no matter how ridiculous the plot. She's never stretched emotionally by this one, though it must have stretched her acting ability to be able to convey any interest in such a ridiculous and poorly scripted story.
Even the very able Tom Wilkinson struggles to look competent when faced with acting into a rear-view mirror, a technique which fails to hide his obvious disdain.
JLH elevates it from a 1 to a 2 vote, but if you aren't a fan then this is definitely one to avoid.
Alas, it was not to be. This movie is as full of clichés as all the other movies called If Only. I mean, not even the title is original for crying out loud! A love affair between a Brit and an American girl which has no humour, nothing really standing out (and I mean both music and acting), with a title that says it all (yet another movie about going back on a particular moment and trying to change it)
And no, not even the wife liked it. Could it be that this film was produced by Hewitt because it was the only way she could be cast into a movie or allowed to sing?
Paul Nichols (Eastender's Joe) has a roaming accent all the way through and basically it's difficult to care about either character when they struggle to make do with such bad dialogue.
Love Hewitt's song at the end is a joke and obviously some sort of vehicle for a pop career.
It's a love story with a twist, so to speak. Or maybe more than one? The premise/the story should be reason enough for me to rate this higher. It should be, but even if I like it and think Jennifer Love Hewitt is cute and good looking, I can't overlook it's flaws. And Jennifer is one of them. It might be the script that let's her down, but I do think that it is established here, that she can't act. It's a shame and I really don't like saying that, because as I wrote I like her. So she can't act and the script (dialogue!!!) sucks too (has plot holes in it that would make holes in a swiss cheese envious! I really would've liked to write better things, but then again I would've liked to watch a better picture also (that's what I think and I couldn't care less if this is not a popular opinion)!