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  • Jennifer Green

Review: "If You Were the Last"

Warning before reading: this offbeat and uneven romcom is better watched without knowing anything about its characters or storyline before going in. That's because If You Were the Last throws a curveball -- for its characters as much as its audience -- at around the one-hour mark, and the latter act feels like a completely different movie than the first two-thirds.


The characters are stuck on a spaceship that's made to look like a ‘70s ranch house, with orange-and-blue décor, 8-track-like music and video systems, and early Nintendo-style rocket machinery. When we see the spaceship from the outside, it's a stop-motion cardboard shuttle circling cut-out, hand-painted planets.


The intentionally quirky setting tells us not to take the characters' predicament too seriously. So long as we do that, we can focus on the sweet emotional connection and fast-paced banter between Chao and Mackie, both charismatic actors.


It's all a little odd but entertaining enough that it works. We go along with a couple of the more dramatic scenes on the spaceship because they're anomalies rather than a general tone. The problem (spoiler alert) is that the tone switches when the pair get off the ship, and the film becomes a more conventional, and much less interesting, tale.


The "real world" is too real, and the additional characters feel forced. Yes, that parallels the characters' feelings and makes for a symbolic closing on the page, but it doesn't add up on the screen.


Maybe the spaceship was all just a metaphor? Are Adam and Jane a kind of Adam and Eve? Either way, the disbelief we were asked to sustain vanishes, and unfortunately so does most of the film's charm.

 

Full review available on Common Sense Media.

Images courtesy of Peacock.

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