Technical genius Adrian (Luke Ford) has OCD, which appears to have swallowed his life up wholesale after an unexpected break up. Holed up in his apartment, which is in a continuous cycle of cleaning, his only real escape is tearing around in his car at high speeds. When he meets Grace (Anna Samson), a painter with Dissociative Identity Disorder, the pair seem destined to be together. But only if they can overcome Adrian’s fastidious habits and Grace’s predatory personality.
Giving the leads of your romantic comedy mental health issues is tricky ground to navigate. Jokes built around your characters could be seen as laughing at them, rather than with them. Additionally, in the pursuit of true love, there’s a certain danger of downplaying their daily struggles. What if it Works?, from first time director Romi Trower, not only tackles these issues, it does so with success.
It helps that Trower writes Grace and Adrian as fully developed characters, rather than tropes wrapped up in human skin. They are not drawn to each other because they’re ‘outsiders’, other ‘normal’ characters, such as Adrian’s ex (Brooke Satchwell), are shown to have their own issues to figure out. Instead, we see a genuine affection brewing between the pair in the brightly shot painted laneways of Melbourne. All of which is further bolstered by humanistic performances from Ford and Samson that steer clear from pantomime. Samson, in particular, does a fair amount of heavy lifting as Grace and her several personalities.
Whilst What if It Works? may not have the most complex of plots and secondary characters do seem light on exposition, this simply gives us the opportunity to enjoy the company of our heroes. And considering how touching and big-hearted that company is, it’s completely worthwhile.