Directed by Gil Junger
January 23, 2004 (Sarasota Film Festival) / September 23, 2005 (Spain) / January 15, 2006 (US ABC Family)
A neglectful boyfriend gets a second chance to make things right after his girlfriend is killed in a freak car accident.
There was a point in human history when Jennifer Love Hewitt was seen as the girl next-door. That was her bread and butter. Today she is the woman next-door. She has an appearance and screen presence that makes her perfect to play the girlfriend. I do not mean that as a cut. She just gets you to invest very much in the character when she takes on those roles.
Here she plays American musician Samantha Andrews who is living in London and is the girlfriend to driven English businessman Ian Wyndham (Paul Nicholls). He is thoughtless bordering on neglectful as he has prioritized his career over Samantha. Really? The character looks like Jennifer Love Hewitt and is way too sweet to be real. Some dudes…
As can be sometimes the case a tragedy makes the boyfriend realize just how fortunate he is or was. The premise of this film is that Ian gets the previous day to do not only do over but do right. And he does it the way he probably should have done their whole relationship.
During the course of If Only, at least until they make a radical change, the events of the previous day do not play out exactly as they did before. There are slight differences, but the end result is always the same which makes you think that the finale will be different, and the couple will get a happily ever after in some fashion.
Tom Wilkinson plays a supernatural cab driver in this movie. At the beginning of the film, he gives the boyfriend some sound advice as Ian is coming to the realization of how he actually is. You do not cast a guy like Tom Wilkinson in a movie and not make him an important character so right away I knew something was going on.
Unfortunately Ian fumbles the advice. And then Samantha gets in the cab and is struck but that is not the end of the story. After an evening of mourning and regret, Ian wakes to find Samantha alive and slowly realizes he has been given another shot.
The film is built around regret and how we all think of what we could have done better when it is too late to do things right. What would you do if you had one day to do right with someone who passed? During the story Ian learns how to open up to Samantha and just how stupid he has been.
The ending perfectly fits the film even if it is not the one you would want. I think it would have been a much weaker film otherwise. Sometimes a downer ending is best. But it packs a real emotional punch you could not have got any other way.
This was released as a TV film on the former ABC Family (which has gone through a few name changes since) which is where I first saw it. And sometimes it does feel like a better than most television film in how it is shot.
If Only is a sweet film that pulls at your heartstrings and knows how to hit all the right emotions. This is not a deep or sophisticated romantic film. It is just designed to fool with your heart. It is not an original film, but it is serviceable and quite enjoyable. It has beautiful scenery and our two leads are quite good in their respective parts.
If Only is an enjoyable romantic film. You will feel all the right emotions and you may even tear up a time or to. Watch it!