“It Had To Be You” (2015)
Film is reviewed from the 2016 Terminus Film and Gaming Festival screening.
When we first meet Sonia (Cristin Milioti) she is sitting on the toilet with her shorts down around her ankles, music coming through the open bathroom door. She reaches for the toilet paper that isn’t there. Given that she has no toilet paper on the roll next to her, she calls for her husband, Chris (Dan Soder) for a new roll but Chris can’t hear her over the music. After several attempts to get his attention, she decides to venture out of the bathroom on her own, with her shorts still down around her ankles. She enters the hallway and notices some red rose petals on the floor. Intrigued, she waddles toward the bedroom that Chris is in, coming closer to the source of the music behind his partially closed door. As she reaches the door, she peers into the bedroom and sees lit candles; the room is filled with flowers, in vases and petals on surrounding the bed. Chris is sitting on the bed, making last-minute adjustments to a cake with the words “Will You Marry Me” in icing. She can’t believe her eyes and makes a hasty retreat out of the apartment and down to the street, calling her best friend before even leaving the apartment.
Sonia gets ahold of her friend, Nora (Halley Feiffer) and starts to panic, not knowing how to handle the situation. She is nervous, scared and almost horrified that he is going to propose. A proposal is the furthest thing in this relationship that she wants. She expresses, in no uncertain terms that she does not want to marry Chris. She turns slowly around to discover that Chris has been there the whole time, realizing that the woman he loves doesn’t want to marry him, even after his elaborate attempt to propose to her. Chris is heartbroken, not understating why she doesn’t want to even hear his proposal. Sonia slowly convinces Chris that she just needs time to mull over the idea and that eventually she will say yes. How much time will Sonia need to decide or will she be forever hesitant to tie the knot and how much time is Chris willing to wait, no matter how strong his love for Sonia is?
I liked this fun and innovative look at the romantic comedy genre by first-time writer/director Sasha Gordon. Gordon’s main character, Sonia isn’t a damsel in distress waiting for the white knight to ride up on his horse and sweep her into his arms as they ride off into the sunset. Instead, we get an annoying character who keeps messing up a good thing with her boyfriend, as she hesitates and questions if marriage is even in her future. While it is sometimes hard to root for Sonia, because she consistently creates self-inflicted wounds, to Gordon’s credit we never stop liking Sonia and her quirky outlook on love.
Of course, a lot of the credit for our affection for Sonia goes to Cristin Milioti, who takes a part that is at times frustrating and hard to root for, and still, we like Sonia and want her to find happiness. Milioti works her charm on the audience from that opening scene and doesn’t stop until the end of the film. She has such an expressive face and what seems like boundless energy makes her so much fun to watch on the screen. Milioti best scenes aren’t always with Dan Soder, who plays her put-upon boyfriend (though their scenes do work) but with her tribe of girlfriends (at one point she compares her group to the “Sex in the City” gang in an amusing sequence about her friends). Kate Simses, Erica Sweany, and especially Halley Feiffer, play off of Milioti with an ease that makes us believe that these women have known each other for a long time and support each other to the fullest.
Gordon, before this film, has composed music for films for over a decade, including one of my favorite films of last year, Leah Meyerhoff’s “I Believe in Unicorns.” It’s no coincidence that Sonia’s occupation is composing music for commercials, and some of the funniest scenes of the film are where she is working on the music for a sports bra or a baby product. Gordon wrote most to the music for the movie, and it fits perfectly with the films look and feel. I also enjoyed the small bits of animation that bring comic relief to some of the more emotional scenes.
“It Had to Be You” does not disappoint, as Cristin Milioti delights us with a sparkling performance in this cute and winning turn at a romantic comedy. My Rating: Full Price
My movie rating system from Best to Worst: 1). I Would Pay to See it Again 2). Full Price 3). Bargain Matinee 4). Cable 5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again
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