At a brutally repressive English boarding school where humorless, unquestioning conformism is the norm, rebellious senior Mick Travis (McDowell) engages in small acts of anti-authoritarianism, stirring the wrath of sadistic headmaster Rowntree (Swann), who administers vicious beatings in the name of school solidarity. Fed up, Mick and two of his young cohorts mount an audacious counteroffensive.
Mixing gritty realism and dark fantasy, Anderson's "If ..." is a breathlessly paced powder keg of a movie that captures the anarchic spirit of the late-sixties counterculture, thanks to McDowell's ferocious breakout performance. Allegorizing the tumult of the time, Anderson builds the action to a surreal, explosive climax you'll not soon forget. Heady and exhilarating, "If... " is a potent assault on mainstream complacence that has lost none of its impact. Which side are you on?