"IRL" aka, In Real Life is a movie familiar enough to be easily related with, but different enough to be interesting. The familiarity comes from the fact this is a romance, a story of two people finding each other in today's modern world. You know how these things go right? You've seen them over and over again throughout your life. Same story, slightly different details. There's nothing wrong with calling a romantic drama a romantic drama, nothing wrong with it being a cliche topic because frankly. it's the familiarity that draws you in - like comfort food. But if you can put a slightly fresh spin on things, and add in some likable characters, you more than likely have a winner - such as is the case here.
The quick version is this. We have Ian, an artist who pays the bills using his skills as a graphic designer. He's a nice guy by most standards, but can't seem to find that one person for him. Using his favorite dating app, Ian goes from one first date to the next - with no luck. Until he meets Sophia, the perfect woman for him. The two hit it off instantly and Ian thinks she may be the one only... she's out of town. Her mother is hospitalized and although they can chat on the phone, they can't actually meet right away. Oh, and here's the other thing... as perfect as Sophia is, she doesn't seem to want Ian to actually see her - that includes video chat. So, as the two continue to build their relationship Ian can't help but wonder one thing - is Sophia the woman she claims to be? And if she actually isn't, could there still be a chance here? I won't spoil how things go, but "IRL" really is a film for today's world. No question.
Now, although this is essentially a romance, and I've touched on the plot above, there's a lot more going on in this movie than the boy meets girl scenario. Chase Hinton, who wrote this flick, has included a barrage of back story to spice things up. From general family conflict, to abuse, and the general feelings of loneliness most people will instantly recognize. What's interesting is that all these little details don't work to bloat the film, but actually do what they are meant to do - add some depth. This is important because a lot of this film is literally shots of Ian by himself - that extra depth really helps make this film feel much larger.
Speaking of bloating, I will admit that "IRL" can and does feel a little long from time to time. I'm not quite sure how to articulate what I mean, but I'll try with this - parts in the film do drag a little, but it's never bad. There are the good parts, and then the really good parts. No matter how you slice it, "IRL" is just a solid film with lots of feeling. Even those not really into the romance genre will find something to connect with here. Period.
Ricardo Perez-Selsky directs a film that is entertaining because most of us can relate. This is a well-made movie, a well-acted movie, and contains a fresh take on a much-loved genre. I'm not going to lie, the ending may not be your cup of tea, but it will definitely leave an impression. Four stars.