Original title:IF
Director:John Krasinski
Running time:104 minutes
Release date:17 may 2024
Bee, a little girl, discovers one day that she can see everyone's imaginary friends. And so begins a magical adventure to help every child find their forgotten imaginary friend.

Sabine's Review

It's the story of a teenager, nicknamed Bee, who returns to move into her childhood apartment with her grandmother Margaret, because her father has to have a heart surgery. She has already gone through hardships, having lost her mother from cancer. She meets her neighbor Cal and discovers that, like him, she can see imaginary friends. She will help him save these imaginary friends who have been forgotten by their children, since they are adults.

In the style of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, a precursor of the genre, the film combines live action and animation : the imaginary friends. It's a great idea and well done. John Krasinski, better known as an actor thanks to the series The Office, creates a surprise, because his previous films were genre films. Director, he plays the role of the father, who transforms life into comedy. He created this movie by observing his two daughters' behaviors. Ryan Reynolds, known for DeadPool, plays Cal. His tandem with Cailey Fleming (Bee) works. They play perfectly opposite the imaginary friends, evolving from real settings to blue screen.

These imaginary friends are very amusing, even eccentric like the flaming marshmallow, the ice cube with sneakers, a Haribo teddy bear... The two stars of the film are Blue, an enormous purple stuffed toy, whose voice is that of french actor José Garcia, and Blossom, an elegant butterfly ballerina, to whom french singer Mylène Farmer lends her suave voice.

This film celebrates the power of imagination. One in two children has an imaginary friend. These kind monsters comfort them in the face of life's trials. Thanks to special effects, the director has created poetic scenes, where imagination transforms reality and brings abandoned places like the hotel or the amusement park to life. The scene where the grandmother (amazing Fiona Show) relives her dream of becoming a ballerina is moving. The scenario plays the melodrama card to the fullest. Prepare the tissues. But in those difficult times, there's nothing like a “doudou” or baby blanket, a good cozy film like Blue and Company, to watch with the family.

Written and directed by John Krasinski
Produced by John Krasinski, Allyson Seeger, Andrew Form, Ryan Reynolds
Starring Cailey Fleming, Ryan Reynolds, John Krasinski, Fiona Shaw
Cinematography : Janusz Kamiński
Edited by Christopher Rouse, Andy Canny
Music by Michael Giacchino
Production companies : Sunday Night Productions, Maximum Effort
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date : May 8, 2024 (France), May 17, 2024 (United States), 
Running time : 104 minutes

Seen May 5, 2024 at Pathé Beaugrenelle, Paris, Dolby Cinéma, french version

Sabine's Mark:

Mulder's Review

IF, directed by John Krasinski, is a spellbinding exploration of the world of imaginary friends, served up by a perfect cast and direction that oscillates between respectful homage and timid innovation. Through this film, John Krasinski attempts to capture the magic inherent in childhood while tackling the sometimes dark realities of adulthood, creating a dialogue between the comforting past and a more complex present.

The film begins with an intriguing premise: a young girl, played with palpable sensitivity by Cailey Fleming, rediscovers her imaginary childhood friend in a moment of personal crisis. This idea, though not entirely original, is treated with a freshness that captures interest thanks to careful direction and captivating visual effects. The cinematography by Steven Spielberg's regular collaborator Janusz Kamiński brings a cinematic quality that elevates the film above the average family production, with images that often flirt with pure fantasy.

Michael Giacchino's music envelops every scene in an aura of mystery and nostalgia, reinforcing the film's themes of memory and the passage of time. His compositions, while evocative, maintain a delicate balance between the familiar and the extraordinary, supporting the performances without ever overpowering them.

At times, however, IF suffers from its own ambition. Over-embracing Pixar and Spielbergian influences, the film struggles to find a voice of its own. Comparisons with Monsters & Company and E.T. are inevitable, not only in terms of stylistic and thematic choices, but also in the very treatment of its characters and universe. The imaginary friends, though adorably rendered thanks to high-quality animation, sometimes seem to be replicas of ideas already seen, lacking that little something that would make them unforgettable.

Despite these shortcomings, the film shines in its moments of pure emotion. The scenes in which Cailey Fleming interacts with her imaginary world, or those depicting her struggle with loneliness and fear of abandonment, are poignant. Ryan Reynolds provides a welcome comic counterpoint, playing a character who provides both humor and heart, although his role may seem under-exploited.

The voice cast, including names like Steve Carell, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and Emily Blunt, brings significant emotional depth, each voice adding a layer of complexity to their animated characters. They manage to inject vibrant life into their roles, sometimes even stealing the stage from flesh-and-blood actors.

IF is a bittersweet work that veers between family entertainment and a more serious meditation on loss and remembrance. If the film can sometimes seem confused in its intentions, oscillating between a children's show and an adult exploration of delicate themes, it remains a worthwhile cinematic experience that deserves to be seen for its ambitions and technical achievement. John Krasinski, in departing from his usual repertoire, once again demonstrates his versatility and commitment to stories that, while imperfect, aspire to move and inspire.

Written and directed by John Krasinski
Produced by John Krasinski, Allyson Seeger, Andrew Form, Ryan Reynolds
With Cailey Fleming, Ryan Reynolds, John Krasinski, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Louis Gossett Jr. and Steve Carell
Director of photography: Janusz Kamiński
Editing: Christopher Rouse, Andy Canny
Music: Michael Giacchino
Production companies: Sunday Night Productions, Maximum Effort
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date: May 8, 2024 (France), May 17, 2024 (U.S.), 
Running time: 104 minutes

Seen May 10 at Gaumont Disney Village, Room 3 seat A19

Mulder's Mark: