Starring: Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan
Director: Michael Dowse
Writer: Elan Masti
Rated: PG-13 for sexual content, including references throughout, partial nudity and language
I knew I wanted to see this movie immediately upon seeing the first trailer, and I know I don't have to sell you, my beloved blogger friends, on the idea of Daniel Radcliffe as the romantic lead in a romantic comedy. He is smart and charming and funny and self-deprecating in this film, which is everything I imagine him to be in real life. I have to admit that I still feel a little funny thinking of Harry Potter as a real (and sexy) man, but as he himself said: the media had no problem making Emma Watson a sex symbol as soon as she hit puberty, so why do we have such a hard time viewing him as anything but the boy who lived? Thankfully, in What If, I didn't see him as Harry Potter in the slightest--he was just Wallace, a man who is just starting to recover from a recent heartbreak when he meets the girl who just might be his soul mate.
What If follows Wallace and Chantry (Kazan), a pair of twenty-somethings who meet cute at a party thrown by his former college roommate (Adam Driver from Girls) who happens to be her cousin. The two, who both admit to being a little social inept, bond over refrigerator poetry and immediately click in that special way that so rarely happens. He walks her home from the party and the two agree to hang out sometime--only to have her sneak in (in that sneaky ways that girls do--in the sneaky way that I once did) that she has a boyfriend, but would still love if they could hang out as friends.
The two do begin hanging out on a regular basis, but it is obvious that there is a real spark between the two of them. A spark that Chantry does her best to ignore because not only does she have a boyfriend, but she has built a real life with him. The two live together, they have been together for the last five years, and she really does love him. Wallace, for his part, respects the fact that she has a boyfriend and doesn't make a move.
I truly enjoyed What If. It isn't anything new--from just the trailer or synopsis you know how the movie is going to end--but it was still a fun journey. What saves the film from the tired story is Radcliffe and Kazan and the chemistry between them. In addition, their dialogue is witty and their story feels real. You don't doubt for a minute that Chantry is struggling with the guilt she feels for the attraction she has for Wallace while in such a serious relationship. While I don't at all condone infidelity (like, at all, I would never in a million years cheat on my husband and I would be heartbroken if he ever cheated on me), I can't help but feel like sometimes two people are just meant to be together. Sometimes two souls really just do complete each other in a way that is undeniable. How could anybody stand in the way of that?
Overall, I would definitely recommend What If. I was a bit surprised by the not-so-awesome reviews I remember reading when this was in theaters. Again, Radcliffe and Kazan are both so charming and their chemistry is palatable, and the story, while a bit trite, still feels very real. The secondary characters like the roommate/cousin and Chandry's sister add humor and depth to the film. Now on DVD (and I'm sure it will be streaming before long), What If is the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon.