Film Review: What If (2014)

Med school dropout Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) has seen his fair share of heartbreak. After having his own heart broken, he decides that enough is enough and hits the pause button on his love life. Just as he is doing this, it would seem that everyone around him is settling down, including his eccentric friend Allan (Adam Driver). One night, Wallace decides to take the plunge and leave the confines of his sister’s attic, where he currently hibernates, and head to a party. It is here that he meets Chantry (Zoe Kazan), a delightfully amiable animator who happens to be Allan’s cousin. The connection between them is instantaneous, along with the unfortunate continuity error in the first few minutes, and the magnetism between them is undeniable. As the pair become closer, Wallace tries to settle into his new home in the friendzone, which soon becomes a warzone as he struggles with his feelings.

What If is based on T.J. Dawe and Michael Rinaldi’s play Toothpaste and Cigars and has been brought to life on the big screen by skilful writer Elan Mastai and director Michael Dowse. The carefully crafted writing is combined with exceptional performances from each member of the cast. Radcliffe’s and Kazan’s onscreen chemistry appears effortless in this raw and realistic tale of friendship, life and love. The script is witty and sharp in this endearing gem which shines bright among the independent films of the summer. There is a perfect balance of warmth, wit and whimsy which is portrayed by Radcliffe with ease and skill. Driver was the perfect casting choice for the role of Allan; he manages to sparkle among these stars with style and ease. Despite the familiar formula of a rom-com there has been an injection of charm and kookiness into the very soul of this story.

Wallace and Chantry of What If

Radcliffe and Kazan in ‘What If’ 2014

This is a romantic comedy with a twist. The plot is heart-warming and quirky without committing the crime of cliché. What If is refreshingly brilliant within this otherwise stale and weary genre. Although everyone’s favourite wizard has embarked on several projects since his time at Hogwarts, I would argue that this has been his best work since his days with Hagrid and co. Memories of a wand-wielding teen are soon banished when you are acquainted with the cynical, yet remarkable Wallace, who radiates a sense of awkwardness that you can’t help but adore. The combination of the intricately sharp writing, faultless casting and impeccable performances serves to create a triumphant recipe that is tastier than Fool’s Gold.

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