×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

If I Were You

A woman's discovery of her husband's infidelity triggers a series of increasingly unlikely responses in writer-director Joan Carr-Wiggin's chatty, slight "If I Were You."

With:
With: Marcia Gay Harden, Leonor Watling, Aidan Quinn, Valerie Mahaffey, Joseph Kell, Michael Therriault, Gary Piquer, Bethany Jillard, Elizabeth Whitmere, Claire Brosseau.

A woman’s discovery of her husband’s infidelity triggers a series of increasingly unlikely responses in writer-director Joan Carr-Wiggin’s chatty, slight “If I Were You.” It’s hard to imagine the film working at all without the commanding presence of the always versatile Marcia Gay Harden as a wife whose life is turned upside down, but whose choices tend to strain believability at every turn. If anything, that Harden shines in such a problematic starring role only reaffirms her stature, and may boost distrib and ancillary interest.

In the opening minutes, Carr-Wiggin’s script wastes no time sending wife and biz exec Madelyn (Harden) into a tizzy, as she accidentally spies hubby Paul (Joseph Kell) holding hands with younger gal Lucy (Leonor Watling) in a Toronto bistro. Madelyn’s subsequent call to Paul’s cell phone prompts him to call it quits, which then begins a succession of over-the-top reactions: Madelyn follows Lucy to her apartment and prevents Lucy from hanging herself.

From that point, conversation between the two women is ripe with irony: Lucy, a struggling actor, reveals all about the affair and takes Madelyn into her confidence, not realizing she’s Paul’s wife. Lucy then has the high-concept idea that each of them should stop making her own decisions, and instead decide for each other. This places Madelyn in the position of playing Lucy and Paul to her advantage, though this kind of Machiavellian strategy seems inconsistent with the fundamentally kind person Harden projects.

Unfortunately, for the purposes of this comedy, she must also get goofy, leading to an implausible subplot in which Madelyn accompanies Lucy to an audition for “King Lear” and somehow winds up cast in the title role. A more satisfying storyline has Madelyn visiting her Alzheimer’s-ridden mother at a long-term care facility, only to have a romantic encounter with likable Derek (Aidan Quinn).

Carr-Wiggin’s tube-style direction is better attuned to words than to images, but the chain of fairly incredible situations is simply more than the comedy can bear. Some auds may be willing to stomach the excesses, but the strain never ceases to show.

Nonetheless, Harden’s timing and responses are impeccable, allowing the viewer to observe her character thinking on her feet and gaming the situations as quickly as possible. It works as well as it does because of the actor’s highly intelligent manner: She seems constitutionally incapable of looking or sounding dumb, even when Madelyn heads in the most ridiculous directions.

The supporting cast is pitched at the level of farce, especially Watling, Gary Piquer as an obsequious type and Valerie Mahaffey as his clueless, suspicious wife. Kell barely registers, while Quinn comes off nicely in one of his lighter, more likable recent turns.

Bruce Worrall’s lensing is bright in what looks like early winter in Toronto, and other production departments are pro. Score has Italianate influences that sound out of place.

If I Were You

Canada-U.K.

Production: A Paragraph Pictures presentation in association with TallTree Pictures. (International sales: Inferno Distribution, Los Angeles.) Produced by David Gordian, Alan Latham. Executive producers, Savitri Gordian, Vito Bianchini, Luciano Drigo, Peter Bates, Kirsty Bell, Vince Woods. Co-executive producer, Mark Paladini. Directed, written by Joan Carr-Wiggin.

Crew: Camera (Deluxe color, HD), Bruce Worrall; editor, Elizabeth Cotter; music, Paolo Buonvino; production designers, Aidan Leroux, Sean Breaugh; set decorator, Nigel Hutchins; costume designer, Brenda Broer; sound (stereo), Bill McMillan; supervising sound editors, David McCallum, Jane Tattersall; re-recording mixers, Lou Solakofski, Kirk Lynds; assistant director, David McAree; casting, Mark Paladini, Simone Reynolds, John Buchan, Jason Knight. Reviewed at Palm Springs Film Festival (World Cinema), Jan. 14, 2012. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 114 MIN.

Cast: With: Marcia Gay Harden, Leonor Watling, Aidan Quinn, Valerie Mahaffey, Joseph Kell, Michael Therriault, Gary Piquer, Bethany Jillard, Elizabeth Whitmere, Claire Brosseau.

More Scene

  • Laurie Metcalf, John Lithgow'Hillary and Clinton'

    Why John Lithgow Worried About Starring in Broadway's 'Hillary and Clinton'

    When Lucas Hnath first conceived of “Hillary and Clinton” in 2008, he was writing for and about a very different America. Now, a total reimagining of the show has made its way to Broadway with Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow in the titular roles. At the opening on Thursday night, the cast and creatives talked [...]

  • Patrick Page, Amber Grey, Eva Noblezada,

    'Hadestown' Took 12 Years to Get to Broadway, but It's More Relevant Than Ever

    When “Hadestown” was first staged as a tiny, DIY theater project in Vermont, those involved could never have predicted that it was the start of a 12-year journey to Broadway — or how painfully relevant it would be when it arrived. At Wednesday night’s opening at the Walter Kerr Theatre, the cast and creatives discussed [...]

  • Mick Jagger

    Mick Jagger Makes First Post-Surgery Appearance at Rolling Stones Ballet Premiere

    Rock legend Mick Jagger made his first public appearance post-heart surgery on Thursday night to catch a glimpse of the world premiere of the Rolling Stones ballet “Porte Rouge.” “I hope you are going to enjoy this wonderful new ballet, and, of course, the music,” the frontman declared in a pre-recorded message to the audience [...]

  • Adam Driver appears at the curtain

    Adam Driver on Starring in 'Burn This' for a Second Time

    The Hudson Theatre’s new production of “Burn This” marks its first Broadway revival since it premiered on the Great White Way in 1987, but Adam Driver is no stranger to the work. He starred as Pale in a Juilliard production of the Lanford Wilson drama when he was still a student — and only now, [...]

  • PMC Event Rome

    Film, Fashion, Formula E Mix at Rome E-Prix Bash

    Film, fashion and Formula E auto-racing fused during a dinner and celebration of the Rome E-Prix on Thursday at the Palazzo Dama by the Piazza del Popolo in the heart of the Eternal City.  Guests mingled and sipped cocktails as hors d’oeuvres were passed around in a former home of the Italian nobility with conversation [...]

  • Katy Perry, Diane von Furstenberg, Arianna

    Katy Perry and Anita Hill Honored at the DVF Awards

    Katy Perry was among the honorees at the 10th Annual DVF Awards on Thursday night. The singer was recognized for her advocacy work with both UNICEF and the LGBTQ community. “Music has opened the doors for so many opportunities for me,” she said while accepting the inspiration award. “The ability to meet people and champion [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content