You know the saying “It takes one to know one”? Well, the latest Australian romantic comedy has taken it one step further - it takes one to love one.
Adrian (Luke Ford, ‘The Black Balloon’) is a friendly tech nerd who likes fast cars and has OCD - in his case he likes things clean... very, very clean. Grace (Anna Samson) is an emerging street artist with Dissociative Identity Disorder, playing host to a total of 10 alters - shy, frigid Grace and sexually aggressive G being the most dominant. Adrian has just moved across the street from Grace, and the pair share chemistry as well as a therapist. While a woman who hates to be touched and a guy that hates touching might seem like an bizarrely ideal match - the two become unlikely friends and maybe, just maybe, they turn out to be the best medicine money can’t buy.
'WHAT IF IT WORKS?' TRAILER
Australian screenwriters seem to have a systemic problem of writing things the way they think they should be rather than taking the time to actually figure out how they actually are. The results are melodramatic and overly complicated, shoved into a narrative that doesn’t properly allow for such complexities. When I found out that first-time feature writer/director Romi Trower had actually loosely based this on real life experiences, I thought that finally this would be the exception to the rule.
Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out this way. Trower has a brother with severe OCD and both her mother and aunt work in the field of mental health. But that’s just it - basing such complicated mental issues on her second- and third-hand information, these characters are burdened by her perspective and not reality. As an artist and storyteller, Trower needed play to her strengths and strip the characters down to what makes them unique in this situation - which is their relationship to each other, how they form, and how they grow. Instead, she’s manifested backstories that don’t fit and a gaggle of secondary characters that are superfluous and add nothing to the story except to serve as a needless distraction. This film is about relationships, and yet the focus seems to be on their illnesses.
The heroes are Ford and Samson. They turn in beautiful and heartwarming performances.
The heroes of ‘What If It Works?’ are Ford and Samson. They turn in beautiful and heartwarming performances and deserve most of the credit. This film is sweet, occasionally funny, and has been an audience favourite as it makes the rounds on the festival circuit. Let’s hope it continues that run of good fortune as it hits the mainstream.