If I Were You (a J!-ENT DVD Review)
May 11, 2013 by Dennis Amith
Joan Carr-Wiggin’s “if i were you” is a comedy that rides on the shoulders of Marcia Gay Harden’s acting performance. It’s not a great film but it’s an enjoyable and charming film worth watching.
© 2013 Kino Lorber, Inc. All rights reserved.
DVD TITLE: if i were you
DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2013
DURATION: 115 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: 16:9, 5.1 Dolby and Stereo, Closed Caption
COMPANY: Kino Lorber Inc.
RATED: NOT RATED
RELEASE DATE: May 14, 2013
Written and Directed by Joan Carr-Wiggin
Executive Producer: Peter Bates, Kirsty Bell, Vito Bianchini, Savitri Gordian, Mark Paladini, Vince Woods
Produced by David Gordian, Alan Latham
Line Producer: Stephen Traynor
Music by Pauolo Buonvino, Guy Farley
Cinematography by Bruce Worrall
Production Design by Sean Breaugh
Set Decoration by Nigel Hutchins
Costume Design by Brenda Broer
Marcia Gay Harden as Madelyn
Leonor Watling as Lucy
Joseph Kell as Paul
Aidan Quinn as Derek
Valerie Mahaffey as Lydia
Gary Piquer as Keith
Michael Therriault as Rainer
Leon Aureus as Tyler
Claire Brosseau as Regan
Patrick Garrow as Edmund
Bethany Jillard as Cordelia
Madelyn (Marcia Gay Harden) is a successful, self-possessed, middle-aged businesswoman – until she finds out that her husband’s late nights at work are actually intimate dinners with a sexy young aspiring actress, Lucy (Leonor Watling, Hable con Ella). When Madelyn starts stalking this new mistress, she witnesses what she thinks might be the beginnings of a suicide attempt and ends up talking her down.
While Lucy is ignorant of Madelyn’s true identity, the two form a bizarre pact with unforeseen consequences. Matters are complicated further by an amorous coworker and an encounter with a handsome stranger (the ever delectable Aidan Quinn).
Academy Award winning actress Marcia Gay Harden is known for her dramatic roles in films such as “Pollock”, “Mystic River”, “The Mist”, “Miller’s Crossing”, “Into the Wild” and occasionally on television as an FBI agent on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Damages”.
But a comedy role?
Harden goes to show that even she can do comedy with efficacy in Joan Carr-Wiggin’s “if i were you”.
Carr-Wiggin, a writer/director for films such as “A Previous Engagement”, “My First Wedding” and “Honeymoon” is known to explore romantic comedy in her films and her latest film stars Marcia Gay Harden, Spanish actress Leonor Watling (“Talk to Her”, “The Oxford Murders”, “Unconscious”), Joseph Charles (“MythQuest”, “Relativity”) and Aidan Quinn (“Legends of the Fall”, “Benny & Joon”, “Unknown”, “The Mission”).
The film won an “Audience Award” at the Palm Springs International Film Festival and now will be released on DVD in May 2013 courtesy of Kino Lorber.
“if i were you” is a film that revolves around Madelyn (portrayed by Marcia Gay Harden), a hardworking businesswoman with an equally busy-at-work husband named Paul (portrayed by Joseph Kell).
Unfortunately, Paul has been coming home very late far too often and for Madelyn, she realizes that her husband has been working on an audit and has a reason to be coming home late. That was until she makes a quick stop to a restaurant and catches her husband having a romantic dinner with a woman.
Distraught, Madelyn can’t believe what she is seeing. To make sure it is her husband, she makes a phone call to him and it is confirmed that the man is her husband. But the second call catches her husband off-guard and alerts him that maybe she knows that he is having an affair. He quickly ends his date with the woman and as they make their way out of the restaurant, Madelyn tries to quickly hide from them inside a liquor store. She sees the two having an argument and the woman is seen crying and going inside the liquor store.
The woman crying is seen asking for a rope and a bottle of liquor. Wondering why a woman would buy a rope, Madelyn who appears to be concerned but also wondering who the woman that her husband has been having an affair with, starts following her back to her apartment complex. And Madelyn becomes persistent, thinking the woman is trying to kill herself and she’s right.
Madelyn convinces the woman named Lucy (portrayed by Leonor Watling) that it is not worth killing herself over a man. And Lucy looks at Madelyn as a woman that saved her life. As the two discuss each other’s business, Lucy is unaware that the man she is having an affair with is Madelyn’s husband, while Madelyn talks about her husband having an affair with a woman.
Madelyn learns from Lucy that she is a struggling actress who has become obsessed with Paul and through their discussion, learning how bad her marriage was, when all this time, she thought things were going perfectly.
And somehow through their discussion, the two women bond and become friends. Lucy feels that she and her new friend should make a new pact, that temporarily, one would make major decisions for the other, so they don’t mess up their lives.
For Madelyn, she knows she can use the time to pull Lucy away from her husband, but also get to learn about her husband from Lucy and how he really felt about her and their marriage. As for Lucy, she feels that Madelyn can make her husband jealous by having an affair of her own to be even.
But the timing for Madelyn couldn’t be any worse. Her mother is dying of dementia and she is awaiting that call that she has passed away, her marriage appears to now be over and to get through her day, she starts drinking heavily that it begins affecting her job.
But when she tells her boss Keith (portrayed by Gary Piquer) that Paul has had an affair, instead of the usual apologetic comment, Keith confesses to Madelyn that he has always loved her and in a heartbeat, will leave his wife Lydia (portrayed by Valerie Mahaffey) if she tells him that they have a chance.
Meanwhile, Lucy keeps calling her of whether or not she should call Paul, but Madelyn tells her that she should wait for Paul’s call, making sure that their relationship grows distant. But when Madelyn begins receiving these calls often, even early in the morning and notices a change of her attitude towards him and her daily routine, he begins to suspect that she is having an affair and it starts to anger him.
One day, as Madelyn is hanging out with Lucy for a theatrical audition for King Lear, Madelyn and her husband get into a heated argument during their phone conversation and somehow Madelyn ends up getting hired for the lead role and becoming a female version of King Lear. Which in essence, keeps her out late and making her husband even more suspicious.
But as Madelyn tries to use this friendship with Lucy to keep her away from her husband, she meets a stranger (portrayed by Aidan Quinn) at the nursing home and somehow these two individuals enjoy talking with each other and have an enjoyable time with each other’s company.
With this complicated life that Madelyn lives, what will she do next?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“if i were you” is presented in 16:9, 5.1 Dolby Digital and 2.0 Stereo with closed captioning. Picture quality is very good on DVD, didn’t notice any major compression artifacts and the dialogue and musical soundtrack was clear but is primarily front and center channel driven. I detected no major problems for video or audio during my viewing of the film.
“if i were you” comes with the following special features:
- Cast Interviews – (31:13) Interviews with Marcia Gay Harden, Leonor Watling, Joseph Kell, Aidan Quinn and Michael Therriault.
- Theatrical Trailer – The theatrical trailer for “if i were you”.
Joan Carr-Wiggin’s “if i were you” takes an old concept, of one finding out about their spouse’s affair but giving it a twist with the betrayed wife becoming friends with the mistress.
But I found it more surprising to find award-winning actress Marcia Gay Harden with the main character role for a comedy, after decades of playing serious, dramatic roles.
If anything, Marcia has proven her versatility as an actress but with this film, it’s showing her ability to play something unique to her career and that is a playing a wife who can pull of the dramatic role of losing her mother and now losing a husband, but also a comedic role of being a friend to the mistress but somehow carrying on with life with anger, affecting her job but also winning the lead role to a theatrical play, accidentally.
The film plays off like an “odd couple” of Madelyn, a serious, business wife and Lucy, the sexually-driven, naive mistress, bad model and actress. But despite Madelyn hanging out with Lucy to have her steer clear from her husband, it’s having someone to talk to during her most difficult time that keeps her from associating with her than going all-mad-as-hell towards her. And the result of this new friendship is now making her husband jealous (because he thinks that Madelyn is having an affair behind his back) but most of all, letting her know how her husband and others have perceived of her.
But the primary positive of the film is Marcia Gay Harden’s versatility as an actress and to be truthful, the film benefits because of her ability to switch from dramatic to comedy, drunk to angry and we get to see the actress give a wonderful performance despite the film having scenes that seem unevenly paced, some scenes you wished had music (as the film had a little of that Nora Ephron-flair) to enlighten the mood. If anything, the film seems like a wild dream sequence but for the most part, I did enjoy the film and found it charming.
Overall, Joan Carr-Wiggin’s “if i were you” is a comedy that rides on the shoulders of Marcia Gay Harden’s acting performance. It’s not a great film but it’s an enjoyable and charming film worth watching.
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