Review: What If (2013)

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Daniel Radcliffe continues to stretch his capacity in Michael Dowse’s What If, a smart and funny rom-com that puts a modern spin on the age-old topic of whether men and woman can merely be friends. At a party, Wallace (Radcliffe) meets Chantry (Zoe Kazan), an animator with a similar sense of humour and a long-term boyfriend. Determined not to let their connection pass them by, Wallace and Chantry agree to be friends – an understanding that proves difficult to maintain. A lot of What If’s histrionics have been plucked from the string of other rom-com’s that have proceeded it (the snag of the boyfriend, Chantry’s burgeoning employment situation, to name but two), meaning its narrative is rather formulaic. Yet, there’s charm in bucket loads, most of which flows from the dream duo of Radcliffe and Kazan, who display such an electric, captivating chemistry. Kazan is the real winner here, but Radcliffe is impressive nonetheless, and is backed up by a solid supporting cast. Elan Mastai’s script, too, is packed with wit, and there’s time kept for one or two honest observations about love and relationships to me made. It may not quite like up to its expectations of being When Harry Met Sally the present day, but What if succeeds and more thanks to its pure intentions, a talented cast and the effortless, breezy nature fostered by director Michael Dowse.

A longer version of this review was first posted on CineVue.

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