If Only (2004) Movie Review

Paul Nicholls and Jennifer Love Hewitt in If Only (2004) Movie Image

At the risk of losing my non-existent “cool” credibility with the hipsters who regularly visit the site, let me go ahead and say that I’ve always found Jennifer Love Hewitt, formerly of the TV show “Party of 5″, to be terribly appealing. It’s not just the fact that she’s a fellow Texan (although that helps tremendously, as we Texans like to stick by our own), but she has the type of affable personality that if you find her unattractive as a person, there’s something wrong with you, not her. She was the best thing about Jackie Chan’s “The Tuxedo”, and she’s pretty good in “If Only”, a new romantic film with a fantastical twist. Think of it as “Groundhog Day” meets one of Hugh Grant’s romantic comedies.

“If Only” chronicles a day in the life of Samantha (Jennifer Love Hewitt), a precocious American (aren’t they all?) studying music in London, and her boyfriend Ian (Paul Nicholls), a somewhat stuffy Brit (aren’t they all?) financial something-or-rather. I was never really clear what it was that Ian did, not that it matters much. As the day begins, Ian is nonchalantly chalking up negative points by forgetting important dates and just generally acting like a tool toward his sympathetic girlfriend, who seems to want nothing from him except to love him, and be loved in return. At the end of the night, everything comes to a head, as the two abruptly calls it off and Samantha promptly enters a cab that gets broadsided, killing her. It’s only then that Ian realizes what he had, but of course it’s too late to make amends. Luckily for the grieving boyfriend, when he wakes up the next morning, Samantha is alive again. Even stranger, he’s reliving that fateful day, and he’s the only one who remembers it!

Jennifer Love Hewitt in If Only (2004) Movie Image

All of this takes place within the first 30 minutes, setting the stage for the film’s final hour, which follows Ian as he battles confusion, followed by realization, becomes lost in desperation, and finally discovers acceptance of what’s happened, and will happen. Armed with the knowledge of the day’s events, Ian resolves to save Samantha’s life using his knowledge of the day’s upcoming events. But fate will not be denied, and for every negative event Ian averts, a similar negative event takes its place later on in the day. How do you fight destiny? The answer seems to lie with a mysterious taxi driver (Tom Wilkinson, soon to be seen in the upcoming “Batman Begins”), whose only advise to Ian is to “appreciate” Samantha.

Aside from the fact that we’ve already seen star Jennifer Love Hewitt get broadsided by a car and die on the operating table, “If Only” is actually a rather lively little gem. Hewitt is in trademark happy-go-lucky form, but the real heavy lifting is done by Paul Nicholls, whose character is practically unreadable in the beginning. Which serves our muddled reaction to the character, as we are experiencing Ian through Samantha’s eyes — she simply doesn’t understand him at all even after all these years, and we feel the same way after only knowing him for only half an hour. For much of the film, Paul Nicholls owns the movie, appearing in almost every scene. As the hour of Samantha’s impending death looms, Nicholls wholly convinces as a man trying desperately to cheat fate.

Jennifer Love Hewitt in If Only (2004) Movie Image

One needn’t be pre-disposed to like “Jennifer Love Hewitt movies” to enjoy “If Only”. If you have a pulse, the film should entertain you. The script by Christina Welsh struggles a bit in the beginning, especially by indulging in some cheesy “I’m American, you’re British, and we’re different because of this” moments. This is made sillier because Hewitt’s Samantha has been living in London for 3 years, and it seems not quite believable that she still stumbles over British phrases, and in general is still behaving like a day-old tourist. Luckily Hewitt and Nicholls have chemistry, especially in the film’s second half, and this is enough to save the film whenever the script falters.

“If Only” does follow a somewhat predictable course, and the three main characters (Samantha, Ian, and Lucy Davenport as Samantha’s best friend) are not exactly unique creations in the world of cinema. But to give Welsh and director Gil Junger credit, the film doesn’t opt for the easy way out, and the denouement is stronger, with a touch of grit, for their decision. It’s also to producer Hewitt’s credit that she allows Paul Nicholls to dominant the movie. Without a doubt, the movie will be sold as a “Jennifer Love Hewitt movie”, even if the film’s real strength, and on whose shoulders the movie rests, is Nicholls. In fact, the only real “star moment” that Hewitt allows herself to indulge in shows up toward the end, when Hewitt’s character sings for the first time. A ploy to sell more records or a natural compliment to the character she’s playing? You decide.

Jennifer Love Hewitt in If Only (2004) Movie Image

Jennifer Love Hewitt and Paul Nicholls are very charming and sincere romantic leads, and the story is entertaining and suspenseful, with touches of heartfelt melodrama to make the ladies grab for their hankies. The film stumbles a bit in the beginning, but more than makes up for it with an exciting and romantic second half. The fantastical premise is not up for debate, much like the South Korean movie “Some” (which used the same “living the same day over” conceit), which is . Those looking for a slightly ambitious romantic film will find “If Only” more than suitable.

Gil Junger (director) / Christina Welsh (screenplay)
CAST: Jennifer Love Hewitt …. Samantha Andrews
Paul Nicholls …. Ian Wyndham
Lucy Davenport …. Lottie
Diana Hardcastle …. Claire
Tom Wilkinson …. Taxi Driver




About Nix

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Editor/Writer at BeyondHollywood.com. Likes: long walks on the beach and Kevin Costner post-apocalyptic movies. Dislikes: 3D, shaky cam, and shaky cam in 3D. Got a site issue? Wanna submit Movie/TV news? Or to email me in regards to anything on the site, you can do so at nix (at) beyondhollywood.com.

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  • ashnawi kali

    i dedicate this movie to miss farhana sampulna campiao, RN

    i love her so much

    please help me guys out here

  • ashnawi kali

    i dedicate this movie to miss farhana sampulna campiao, RN

    i love her so much

    please help me guys out here

  • Randy S

    This is truly a great movie for all romantics… today is the first time I have seen it,I only wish it had been years earlier. It makes me want to share it with my ex-wife…yes I still love her! Watch this with the one you love, NOW.

  • Randy S

    This is truly a great movie for all romantics… today is the first time I have seen it,I only wish it had been years earlier. It makes me want to share it with my ex-wife…yes I still love her! Watch this with the one you love, NOW.

  • greyzame_djc21

    This one of the most beautiful movie i’d ever seen in my life…this movie really means to me. Me and my girlfriend really likes this movie. it’s a great combination on JENIFER and PAUL…everytime i watch this movies i really relate my self to the story,maybe we’re both the same in the situation of PAUL NICHOLS…
    So GUYZ and GULZ go and grab this copy….it’s really great…

  • greyzame_djc21

    This one of the most beautiful movie i’d ever seen in my life…this movie really means to me. Me and my girlfriend really likes this movie. it’s a great combination on JENIFER and PAUL…everytime i watch this movies i really relate my self to the story,maybe we’re both the same in the situation of PAUL NICHOLS…
    So GUYZ and GULZ go and grab this copy….it’s really great…

  • http://yahoo.com/ hannah

    this movie touched my heart to its uttermost part…

    whenever i watch this movie it really makes me cry,,

    Ian is such a loving man,,,
    even though he was a little uptight in the start,,
    he made it up to Samantha and made her feel loved
    even at the last day that they will be together..

    and Samantha,, she very charming,, and seductive..
    i like her..
    the songs she made really caught my attention..
    i wonder if i can also make those kind of songs.. hehehe…

    anyway,,

    to the cast, staff, and to all those who are behind the success of this movie,,,

    i salute you guys,,, you are made a great job… =)

  • http://yahoo.com hannah

    this movie touched my heart to its uttermost part…

    whenever i watch this movie it really makes me cry,,

    Ian is such a loving man,,,
    even though he was a little uptight in the start,,
    he made it up to Samantha and made her feel loved
    even at the last day that they will be together..

    and Samantha,, she very charming,, and seductive..
    i like her..
    the songs she made really caught my attention..
    i wonder if i can also make those kind of songs.. hehehe…

    anyway,,

    to the cast, staff, and to all those who are behind the success of this movie,,,

    i salute you guys,,, you are made a great job… =)

  • vive

    i just love this movie so much!! Everytime i watch it, i always cry. It hurts to lose someone we love, and it hurts more when you know you are about to lose them. And you have a day left to show them how much you care. :((

  • vive

    i just love this movie so much!! Everytime i watch it, i always cry. It hurts to lose someone we love, and it hurts more when you know you are about to lose them. And you have a day left to show them how much you care. :((