Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

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

If I Were You
Written by
Joan-Carr Wiggin
Directed by
Joan-Carr Wiggin
Marcia Gay Harden, Joseph Kell, Leonor Watling

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.

Story continues below advertisement

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.

Report an error
About the Author
Film critic

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


The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨