Ginevra Elkann – accomplished producer of indie and eclectic films – made her directorial debut with the wistful, bittersweet and warmhearted If Only. With its delightfully told tale of a fractured family, imbued with semi-autobiographical and quietly personal touches from her own life, one may even find hints of Mia Hansen-Løve in it. What the film, therefore, might’ve lacked in formal bravura or thematic audacity, it lovingly compensated through the portrayal of otherwise complex marital, familial and filial scenarios with nuance and simplicity, paralleled with the coming-of-age of a cheerful little girl. 8-year old Ana (Oro De Commarque) – clearly representing the childhood self of Elkann and through whose eyes the story largely unfolds – has just one wish, viz. to reunite her parents who’ve been acrimoniously divorced for 5 years now. She’s the youngest of three siblings – the uptight Seb (Milo Roussel) and the physically vulnerable Jean (Ettore Giustiniani) are older to her – and they stay in Paris with their devoutly Catholic mother (Céline Sallette) and stepfather. Their staid and sheltered lives, however, experience a unexpected whiff of chaos and change when they’re sent to Italy to spend their Christmas holidays with their biological father Carlo (Riccardo Scamarcio), a temperamental, unreliable and stony-broke wannabe screenwriter; he, along with his bohemian, quirky and thoroughly unconventional girlfriend and co-scriptwriter Benedetta (Alba Rohrwacher), takes them to a friend’s seaside cottage for a topsy-turvy and freewheeling stay filled with confusions, fights, fun, humour, tenseness, mischief, bonding, rebellion and even tentative hints of first love. Elkann did a fine job in handling the non-professional child actors, with Commarque, as the sweet and ever hopeful Ana, being the star of the show; Scamarcio and Rohrwacher were top-notch too.
Director: Ginevra Elkann
Genre: Drama/Family Drama