Movie review: IF

Bea discovers the ability to see everyone’s imaginary friends, whilst dealing with the loss of her own mother. So she sets about trying to reconnect the ‘IFs’ with their now grown-up children.

Written and produced by John Krasinski and directed by Steven Spielberg’s cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, (Saving Private Ryan and West Side Story) and from Paramount Pictures, comes a love story to Krasinski’s children and also to our own childhoods, with the tale of how we found and lost our own imaginary friends along the way. With the outlined script written in lockdown after Krasinski watched the imagination drain from his children’s eyes through lack of friendship and interaction, he felt this had to be made and with a love rarely found in today’s cinema of superheroes and horror.

Starring a brilliant Cailey Fleming as a twelve-year-old Bea, (15 at the time of filming) and an ever-witty Ryan Reynolds as Cal, comes a story about childhood imagination in this beautiful – yet at times confusing – story of love, loss and friendship. With an ‘A List’ lineup that is mostly heard if not seen, the voice cast is staggering and also too long to mention as they are frustratingly only momentarily in our minds as they briefly shine off the screen with their cameo like appearances. With the likes of George Clooney as Spaceman, Matt Damon as Sunflower, Bradley Cooper as Ice and Emily Blunt (Krasinski’s better half) as Uni, this is a ‘who’s who’ of some of today’s main Hollywood stars. The creativity here is however with Steve Carrell who plays a lovable big purple huggable creature called Blue who lost the love of his now grown-up human boy years ago and is now struggling to find his new partnership via Cal’s often inept ways. Alongside Carell is our co-star’s recognisable voice Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who plays a Betty Boop styled Blossom with wings that have not expanded or indeed shone since her own human also left her behind in the mind cupboard of the gone and forgotten.

 

With many likening this to the ‘Sixth Sense’ of today, there are some storyline oddities. For example, why is Bea roaming the streets of New York on her own with this stranger and where is her Grandma whilst her father is in the same hospital where her mother died of cancer not too many years before? But that is not the point of what John Krasinski is trying to achieve here. This is Bea’s world of loss and turmoil and is where she has the chance to do many a good thing for the ‘lost boys and girls’ of this busy yet lonely brownstone metropolis whilst at the same time unselfishly mentally healing herself.

When a young, hospitalised Benjamin, played by Alan S. Kim crosses paths with Bea, she realises her destiny awaits where she finds the home of the unloved imaginaries, whom she must bring back together with their humans. And this is where the tale truly comes to life and where Krasinski’s imagination can really run riot. What so often was the case years back, with an actor playing to nothing before they add the CGI characters in, here they actually used real puppets during filming for a more realistic interaction. And it shows with all members of the cast, who really shine in those scenes with the IFs.

The music of course has a big part to play, with tracks such as ‘Better Be Good To Me’ in a mini-Tina Turner concert and ‘Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygi’, which is used beautifully in an awakening of Bea’s grandmother played by Fiona Shaw. Michael Giacchino, a composer of films such as the beautiful ‘Coco’ and ‘Ratatouille’ brings to life the joy being created on screen that melts into the background yet has the desired effect Krasinski was looking for and that was to move the audience – which he does well. For me, a second viewing made the difference between an okay film and one that really hits home.

With a loving and fond farewell to Louis Gossett Jr. who died only weeks ago, who voiced a giant teddy bear Lewis, – a character that helped Bea along her journey back to joy – we must remember to never forget the very roots or our ability to tell stories in the most colourful way.

IF was written for children of all ages and has moved the latter generation in one of the best possible ways.

 

 

 

 

Author: Piers, Maidstone Store

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