Tacky and entangled in genre-cliches, yet, What If is still a sweet banality favored by sweet-but-poignant talks and genuine chemistry by Radcliffe and Kazan.
“Friends?” asked Chantry. “Yeah, why not? Friends,” replied Wallace.
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When Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe), a Med school drop out dumped by his girlfriend (Sarah Gadon, looks beautiful in a brief cameo), meets Chantry (Zoe Kazan) in a party, where Wallace’s bestie Allan (Adam Driver) meets his soulmate Nicole (Mackenzie Davis), it appears that their encounter will be a perfectly smooth boy-meet-girl romance.
Yet, that doesn’t happen easily in What If (originally known as The F Word—referring to “Friend”). It turns out Chantry has a long-time boyfriend, Ben (Rafe Spall) and they’ve been living together for five years. Yet, Wallace’s instant connection with Chantry is so unbearable that he agrees on having a platonic relationship with that girl—a complicated back-and-forth relationship without physical affection touch, but full of dilemma. From whatever perspectives, the plot of What If, I describe above, is a way too conventional and too familiar, or I must say, too bleak and forgettable.
Fortunately, that banality turns sweet in favor of convincingly groovy chemistry shown by the lead actors. In this case, Daniel Radcliffe, a completely common man now, really shows his capacity once he strongly connects to Zoe Kazan. Their cute-but-poignant dialogues are sometimes tacky, but mostly funny and realistic; yet, that’s a good service to force the story way ahead—kudos to the scriptwriter (also executive producer), Elan Mastai, who is adept in adapting the heart of a stageplay by T.J. Dawe and Michael Rinaldi titled “Toothpaste and Cigar.”
Although, most moments in this movie fall into stereotypical genre-cliches, What If is still a decent drama favored with sweet dialogues and genuine chemistry between Radcliffe and Kazan. But… don’t forget Adam Driver, the possible Force-monger in the next episode of Star Wars, has one of his most hilarious screentime along with his on-screen partner Mackenzie Davis—who also makes good chemistry.
Seemingly, the director, Michael Dowse is a chemistry-monger after all. It’s a decent job.
What If (2014)
a.k.a The F Word
Drama, Romance, Comedy Directed by: Michael Dowse Written by: Elan Mastai based on play by T.J. Dawe & Michael Rinaldi Starred by: Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Adam Driver, Mackenzie Davis, Megan Park, Rafe Spall Running Time: 98 mins Rated PG-13 for sexual content, including references throughout, partial nudity and language