Austin Film Festival Review: IT HAD TO BE YOU

by Elizabeth Stoddard

Composer Sasha Gordon makes her feature-length directing debut with quirky romantic-comedy It Had to Be You, which screened at Austin Film Festival. Cristin Milioti (How I Met Your Mother, Fargo on FX) stars as Sonia, a woman who composes ad jingles and is in no rush to get married. Her boyfriend Chris (Dan Soder, Inside Amy Schumer) feels otherwise.

Through Sonia’s narration and a non-chronological timeline, the couple’s history is shown and explained to the viewer. Flipping gender expectations, Sonia is the one in the relationship living a sort of stunted adolescence while Chris seems far more eager to follow the culturally-proscribed life trajectory.

Milioti is utterly delightful as Sonia. The laugh-worthy script, based on a story by Gordon and Levi Abrino, offers insight into the different people in this relationship. The couple is shown in this uncertain period, as Chris waits for Sonia to make a decision. She wonders when the time will come that she moves on from her comfy, slouchy clothes to the outfit expected of grown women, and thus be ready for the deeper relationship that Chris expects.

Both Chris and Sonia have support systems, and It Had to Be You includes a supporting cast of funny folks with less-familiar faces. Although her friends obviously want Sonia to join the current life-stage they’re at, they allow her to move at her own speed.

Sonia’s reluctance to marry is refreshing — indeed, the first three-quarters of the film is fairly trope-free, as far as romantic comedies go. It’s the last quarter of the film which pops the bubble, throwing in the old familiar actions we’ve seen so many times before in other movies. It’s a mite disappointing that the ending of It Had to Be You is less imaginative than the rest of the film preceding it.

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