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IF ONLY gets 6.5/10 Slice of family life


Directed by Ginevra Elkann

Starring Riccardo Scamarcio, Oro De Commarque, Milo Roussel, Ettore Giustiniani

6.5/10

Family life is seen in If Only in a way that doesn’t overstate any of its joys, complications, or adventures. It may not have much to convey about divorced families, but it merely wants to authentically present what a life like this would be.

Three children are sent to their estranged dad, Carlo (Riccardo Scamarcio), to live for a small amount of time, travelling from Paris to Rome, where they must now change their speaking language from French to Italian. The youngest child, daughter Alma (Oro De Commarque), is the most optimistic, who indulges in fantasies of her divorced parents getting back together again. Her two older brothers, Seb (Milo Roussel) and Jean (Ettore Giustiniani), don’t share quite the same temperament as her, but do keep a close relationship with her, even having her come along adventures with them as they try to sell bracelets, which is when they meet some young adults who like to loiter and drink beer.

Lesser films would perhaps turn this into a conflict plot point, where these teenage siblings get influenced by the older crowd. But If Only takes a generally more measured approach, hardly ever taking any obvious routes, but going for something much more honest to its life-like family depiction.

There’s not much story or conflict for this family-based film, and it’s all the better for it. In fact, the drama that does get shoehorned into the latter parts of the film really detract from the focus on family, and also seem hardly plausible at all. One of the most comical aspects of one of the siblings ends up weirdly (and tenuously) resulting in one of the big dramatic moments of the end of the film.

Aside from these wholly unnecessary tangents, If Only works a pleasant little portrait of a family who don’t appear to be unrealistically ideal or combative one way or another. This is a genuine slice of life film, not feeling the need to make big leaps with how its characters evolve, but giving them just enough growth to make them feel like they’ve realistically earned it.

DAVID MORGAN-BROWN

If Only plays at UWA Somerville from Monday, March 2 – Sunday, March 8, 7:30pm.

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