A decidedly offbeat love story between two troubled individuals, What If It Works? is a heap of fun. It’s the first feature film for writer, director and co-producer Romi Trower.
Adrian (Luke Ford), an irrepressibly chirpy tech nerd, suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder … and how. He walks around wearing trousers that aren’t quite long enough for him, but without socks. Gloves are all but permanently affixed to his hands because physical contact is not on, and he has a pathological fear of dogs. In short, he’s a germophobe.
Grace (Anna Samson), a beautiful street artist, suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder (aka Multiple Personality Disorder). Ten personalities are present, including sexually provocative, cussing and shy.
In their own way, Adrian and Grace are both trapped. As new neighbours, in an inner Melbourne suburb, they find themselves in therapy with the same psychiatrist (Kaarin Fairfax). And they crash into each other one afternoon. As mentioned, Grace has a persona that engages in damaging sex – and that is the extent of her physical experience. Adrian had a high school girlfriend a decade earlier, whom he never got over. That’s the extent of his physical encounters. If that’s not enough, Adrian’s ex (Brooke Satchwell) turns up to really disrupt things.
Adrian becomes aware of a threat to Grace lurking in the form of a fellow street artist named ‘Sledgehammer’ (Wade Briggs). He knows he should help Grace … but he struggles to break free of his OCD in order to do it.
“Unconventional” is the word that immediately pops into my head when I think about this film. Virtually every character in the movie, apart from the shrink, is an outsider in some way. It’s primarily populated by artsy types.
What If It Works? puts a smile on your dial. It’s simplistic on one level and far deeper on another. At times it suffers from being too obvious. It signals its intent from the get go, but what is never lost is its essential charm. The journey is quite a delightful one to take.
A couple of rock solid performances ground the film. With her highly expressive face, Anna Samson (TV mini-series Wake In Fright) shows that she is a serious talent, with a big future ahead of her. There is a real joie de vivre in the essence of how she plays her roles. Luke Ford (Black Balloon) too has the very pronounced proclivities of his extreme character down pat. The thing is both their personas are hard to like – his, in particular – but they are worth the effort.
That’s the way Trower has crafted her screenplay; which says to me there’s a way through, even for the broken. An extremely quirky walk on the wilder side, What If It Works? is a crowd-pleaser for those looking for something different. It scores a 7 out of 10.
Director: Romi Trower
Cast: Luke Ford, Anna Samson, Kaarin Fairfax, Brooke Satchwell
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David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television