Ian is in a rut. Instead of living his dreams as an artist, he is stuck doing menial graphic design jobs. His love life is one unsuccessful online date after another. Until he meets Sofia. Sofia is smart, funny, and everything Ian ever dreamed of, except one problem: she lives a thousand miles away. Is their love strong enough to go the distance or will fear and suspicion break them apart?

What We Thought:

IRL is one of those films that will slide under the radar of most movie watchers. It’s a shame too because it really shows what independent filmmaking can be. There are no crazy special effects. No superheroes or alien monsters. It’s a character study that leans heavy on the dialogue and wants the audience to root for, but also guess at what will happen between its leads Ian and Sofia.

If you’re in a certain age range, still haven’t found the “one” and/or take jobs to pay the bills instead of your true calling, you’ll totally relate to the film. Ian is the classic struggling artist type. His dream is to showcase and sell his art. His reality is doing graphic design to pay his rent. We all hate it, but most of us have to do it. He still hasn’t found the love of his life and bounces from one online date to the next.

Then he answer an ad by Sofia. She responds. He responds back. They talk on the phone. He gets the courage to ask her out, but unfortunately she’s in Mexico City helping her mother who’s dealing with cancer. They continue to talk because she should only be there a few more weeks.

Then the red flags pop up. She won’t video chat because she says it’s too expensive in Mexico City. Her stay gets pushed a little longer. He starts second guessing things and you start thinking he might be getting catfished. I can admit I’m a cynically jaded person so I immediately start thinking the worse. It keeps you guessing if she’s real or not especially after a fight.

I won’t spoil IRL’s ending because that would be mean of me. It will probably divide people who need a typical Hollywood (happy) ending though. But that’s what I enjoy about indie film, you don’t have to follow the rules. It’s a simply made film, but that’s not a negative. If the narrative is relatable, you don’t need much more than the story. Sure it uses today’s tech of texting, video calling and looking someone up online, but if that’s not peak dating rituals in today’s world, what is? This was made before Covid lockdowns, but if anything talking/texting/video calling while getting to know someone is more relatable now than ever. If you want a character/story driven film without a ton of nonsense then the film is…


Cast & Crew:

Chase Hinton

Johanna Sol

Eric Roberts

Director Ricardo Perez-Selsky

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