20 August 2006 | Crap_Connoisseur
An Acting Showcase
If Tomorrow Comes is an unusual film, distinguished by surprisingly strong performances from an excellent cast. The film is low-budget and some of the technical aspects are quite poor. I often got the feeling that the film had not been completely finished or had faced problems in post-production. Nevertheless, If Tomorrow Comes is worth watching as a showcase for the many fine actors involved.
The film begins with a jumble of poorly filmed flashback sequences. Adam (Dave Buzzotta) appears to have suffered some kind of sexual abuse as a child. The exact situation remains unclear but the lasting effects of Adam's childhood trauma could not be any more apparent. Adam is lost soul, who consoles himself by listening to answering machine messages from his estranged father. Adam's best friend since childhood, Devin (James Franco) is equally damaged. His life revolves around caring for his disabled brother, pulling needles out of his junkie step-mother and avoiding his abusive father. The film works exceedingly well when it is content to examine Adam and Devin's unusual friendship. If Tomorrow Comes shows male relationships in a new light. The handling of their love for the same girl, Kobe, is free from all the usual clichés and alpha male stereotypes. Unfortunately, the film is far less successful when it pursues a ridiculous gangster subplot.
It's a shame that the writer/director, Gerrit Steenhagen, decided to spice up what could have been an intriguing character study with ludicrous action elements and an even more bizarre porn subplot. Apparently, Adam has been coerced into making pornos by Devin's father in the past. Devin's dad demands that Adam partake in another skin flick or repay him $37,000 in one week. The penalty of not complying is death. This subplot opens up a Pandora's Box of loose ends and unbelievable events. There is the highly coincidental choice of Serena as Adam's proposed porn partner, Adam's completely illogical behaviour, the misplaced comedic relief from the heavies sent to threaten Adam, Devin's duel role as Adam's bodyguard/proposed executioner and Devin's father's completely unexplained obsession with getting Adam in front of the camera. Basically, this entire subplot is on the nose. Apart from not making any sense, this detour into "Boogie Nights"/Quentin Tarantino territory is marred by poorly filmed action sequences, confused plotting and terrible dialogue. It's hard to believe this section of the film was written by the same man responsible for Devin's genuinely touching scenes with his brother. Their incredibly depressing Easter egg hunt packs far more punch than all the gangster scenes put together.
The glue that holds this disjointed film together is the consistently excellent quality of the acting. Dave Buzzotta is perfectly world weary as Adam. His apathy is as palpable as his affection for Devin and Kobe. However, the real revelation is James Franco. I had basically written him off as the poor man's Freddie Prinze Jr (harsh, I know) after watching his awful performances in the likes of "Spiderman" and "Sonny". This is by far his best role since "Freaks and Geeks". If Tomorrow Comes would have been filmed at around the same time. Hopefully, he can regain some of this form because his performance as Devin is fantastic. The same can be said of James Madio, who plays Devin's brother, and Helene Udy, who makes Serena so much more than the typical "hooker with a heart of gold".
You could drive a semi-trailer through some of the holes in "If Tomorrow Comes". The direction is basic and the movie sometimes looks like it was filmed on a cheap mobile phone. Despite these faults, If Tomorrow Comes manages to be an insightful and memorable character study. This is definitely worth searching out.