pop culture · reviews

Movie Review: What If (2013)

what if

Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) is stuck in his life when he meets Chantry (Zoe Kazan) at a party.  The two bond over a fridge full of magnetic poetry and immediately hit it off.  But Chantry has a boyfriend and asks if the two can still be friends.  Despite being in love with her, Wallace agrees, wondering if he can set aside his feelings for her and actually be her friend.  Originally titled The F Word and adapted from a play called Toothpaste and Cigars, the film was directed by Michael Dowse.

It’s important to know right off the bat that this might be the best romantic comedy in the past decade.  Hailed as some as the millennial version of When Harry Met Sally, it’s impossible not to see the connections between the films.  Both feature a set of opposite sex friends who dance around their feelings for one another, and both do it well, with plenty of witty banter and fully-realized characters.  The shame here is that this film isn’t better known, because it’s so much damn fun.

The film is adorable (and it knows it), and while that might be off-putting to some viewers, the two leads help temper the whimsy and cutesy aspects of the movie very well.  Both Radcliffe and Kazan are excellent here.  Radcliffe’s nervous energy and wry delivery of his lines makes for a man who is both appealing and very realistic.  Kazan’s huge doe-eyed illustrator could easily fall into the manic-pixie trap but doesn’t.  Chantry’s a fully-realized woman who struggles with her feelings and her fears and is given ample time in the script to do so.  The two leads are charming and witty and absolutely ooze chemistry.

The movie is predictable, sure: it’s a romantic comedy, after all.  But what the film succeeds so well on is taking an existing formula and allowing its actors to take it in a new direction.  The story is grounded in realistic characters and realistic, relatable situations.  The result is a satisfying, heart-warming romance.  This film is so much fun that it’s impossible not to root for the two leads, even as they struggle with their feelings about one another.

Highly, highly recommended. I loved this one.


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