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If I Were You: It’s a farce, or a soap opera, or maybe Shakespeare

In the tepid comedy If I Were You, Madelyn (Marcia Gay Harden, right), counsels her husband’s suicidal mistress, Lucy (Leonor Watling).

1 out of 4 stars

Title
If I Were You
Written by
Joan-Carr Wiggin
Directed by
Joan-Carr Wiggin
Starring
Marcia Gay Harden, Joseph Kell, Leonor Watling
Genre
Comedy
Country
USA
Language
English
Year
2012

This train wreck of a comedy starts with a contrived premise and then keeps piling on baffling digressions like a rambling drunk delivering an interminable wedding toast.

Marcia Gay Harden plays middle-aged Madelyn, who, upon entering a café, spies her husband, Paul (Joseph Kell), canoodling with mistress Lucy (Leonor Watling). Shortly after, Madelyn saves the younger woman from a suicide attempt and, without telling her who she is, strategically befriends her.

That might be enough for one French sex farce, but writer-director Joan Carr-Wiggin keeps adding complications for two painful hours.

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Somehow the two women become involved in a community theatre production of King Lear. Somehow Madelyn's boss (Gary Piquer) decides he has a mad crush on her. Somehow Paul concludes she's cheating on him, which eventually happens in an improbable encounter (mother with dementia, nursing home, Aidan Quinn).

How anyone decided this run-on mess of a script was ready for shooting is a mystery, though Harden, to her credit, is a talented trooper, transitioning from sub-Woody Allen farce to soap-opera pathos to Shakespeare. In some moments, she can almost make you forget what a mistake this role was.

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About the Author
Film critic

Liam Lacey is a film critic for The Globe and Mail. More

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