It Had to Be You opens with its puppy-eyed protagonist, Sonia (Cristin Milioti), sitting on the toilet. The jolt of a cute girl peeing has been resorted to by far too many indie films. Here it announces right away just what kind of film this is.
Sonia is a 30-something woman-child with a quirky job (commercial jingle composer) and a close-knit group of married girlfriends. She gets cold feet when her boyfriend Chris (Dan Soder) proposes, and the two spend the rest of the film in confusion until the inevitable happy end.
It’s familiar stuff, but flashbacks to Sonia and Chris’ early relationship reveal them to be a compelling enough couple, and writer/director Sasha Gordon deserves some credit for not forcing Sonia into the eye-rolling mold of marriage obsession.
The film takes a few jumps in time and employs some mildly experimental techniques. Unfortunately, most of the humor doesn’t stick. Sonia’s personality is obscured by preciousness, and the dirty jokes seem forced. When Sonia’s friend’s husband says, in reference to buying a house, “The real estate market ass-raped us,” the moment feels awkwardly cut-and-pasted from an unfunny bro comedy.
In a few scenes Sonia sees a poised redheaded mystery woman (Rachel York) who strikes her as the embodiment of adulthood. Sonia imagines her as someone who wears fancy underwear, travels a lot and eats healthily — with the introduction of this idealized woman, It Had to Be You cleverly makes manifest its heroine’s insecurities. The film might have benefited from a closer look at this female relationship, which is less predictable than the one at its center.
It Had to Be You
Written and directed by Sasha Gordon
Samuel Goldwyn Pictures
Opens October 21, Village East Cinema
Available on demand