High on concept but low on execution, If I Hadn’t Met You has loads of interesting ideas wrapped in a baggy and overlong series format.
Have you ever wished with every fiber of your being that you could turn back the clock and do something different? Maybe if you had not said that thing you said, or done that thing you did, things might have turned out another way? If someone gave you the chance to try it, wouldn’t you take it? Those are some of the questions asked by If I Hadn’t Met You, the 10-part series now streaming on Netflix.
Eduard, played by Pablo Derqui (Children of the Sun, Cathedral of the Sea) is a married father of two with all the wrong priorities. He works too many hours and makes sure his work is his family’s priority too. He is out of touch with his kids and does not understand what is going on in their lives. One day, he informs his wife that she will have to take the kids to school in her car instead of his. She tells him that the car has been playing up and she would rather take his, but he is unmoved. “Your car will be fine,” he says ominously; you can probably guess where this is going.
Wracked with guilt and grief-stricken, Eduard meets Dr. Everest, a mysterious and eccentric astrophysicist who informs him that she can show him how to travel to alternative dimensions; dimensions where his wife and kids are safe. Eduard takes the chance but soon learns that interdimensional travel is more complicated than he realised (y’er duh!).
The concept and the plot summary for this show are great. The problems start when you sit down to actually watch it. This should never have been a 10-episode run and the fact that each one has a runtime of an hour or so just compounds the issue. There is simply too much time; it makes its point, then it makes it again, and then again for good measure; beating you over the head with plot. This could have been a really good movie, or perhaps a 5-episode run. It feels like the producers had too much freedom and the challenge to tell its story in an economic and much more efficient way would have improved immeasurably.
This show is dealing mainly with themes of grief and regret. These are heavy ideas to tackle and putting them on screen with any kind of grace requires a lightness of touch. Unfortunately, If I Hadn’t Met You is so heavy handed that each episode leaves you feeling emotionally drained and wrung out. The music, the lighting, the lingering shots of grim faced Eduard all contribute to a sense of overwhelming melodrama that somehow undermines Eduard’s depression and the grief he feels at losing his family.
Reading back the above plot synopsis my first thought is “I would watch that show…”; the premise is compelling, and whilst not necessarily wholly original, it is certainly interesting enough to get your attention. The problem is the execution; it’s just too baggy and self-important. This could have been a great movie, but instead, it’s a bloated series.