Synopsis:Elliott wakes up one morning in a strange home, made stranger by the fact that he can’t remember anything about his past. An unusual doctor informs him that he has one week to figure out his identity; failure to do so will result in his commitment into a mental facility. To make matters worse, Elliot must do so with no clues besides a picture, torn in half, of himself standing in front of a house at 711 Paradiso Avenue. The current residents of that address, the Wes Anderson-esque Calavitas, agree to let Elliott stay with them for the week.
What follows can only be described as a journey, as Elliott searches the house and his soul for connections to his past while finding himself immediately involved in the crises of each member of the Calavitas family- The heads of the household, John and Liza, as they come to terms with the degree to which their marriage is a sham; their older son Doug, as his struggles with the awkwardness of high school are alleviated by his first encounter with love; their younger son Kevin, whose innocence experiences its first encounter with reality through the abuse of his elementary school friend; and John’s father Michael, who announces to the family that he faces terminal cancer in a way that is disturbingly chevalier and suggestive of a secret romance in his past.
As the journey progresses, and as Elliott urges his strange doctor to employ drastic assistive measures, the tone shifts from curious and playful to intriguing and disturbing. While he makes no progress remembering what he has-his identity, his present, his future-Elliott does eventually come to realize what he lost: his first and only love, who succumbed to cancer shortly after Elliott proposed.
That knowledge proves hopeful only for a moment, as it consumes Elliott, almost making his quest for his own identity a distraction. His race against the clock appears increasingly futile, yet his search for answers reveals one surprise after another about his host family, culminating in his discovery of the secret that none of them are willing to discuss.
At its core, IF ONLY WE KNEW IT tells the timeless story of love and loss, but it does so in a way that has never been done before and that isn’t immediately recognizable as such. The finale is equally touching and tragic, satisfying and disappointing, providing a profound resolution in some regards and an empty longing in others, attaching to the story the range of emotions associated with the very subject that it tackles.