What If

Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) is in a dead end job, living with his sister and her son, and his social life has all but evaporated. Life has taught him that love is only an excuse to do awful things, lessons learnt from his parents and a string of failed relationships. That is until he meets Chantry (Zoe Kazan), who seems to be perfect for him.. the only problem is her boyfriend. Wallace and Chantry decide to be friends, but as his best friend Allan (Adam Driver) and his girlfriend Dalia (Megan Park) ask throughout the film – “can men and women really be friends, or do you secretly wanna bang Chantry?”

Often when you watch a romantic comedy, the drive of the plot is the ever approaching realisation of both parties that they need to be together – just look at definitive rom-com When Harry Met Sally. This, as the romantic-comedy has failed and floudnered over the years, can feel pushy and staged. But the dialogue between Wallace and Chantry written by Elan Mastai (and based on T.J. Dawe and Michael Rinaldi’s play Toothpaste and Cigarettes) is quick, witty and the conversations between Chantry and Wallace feel real and spur of the moment, full of teasing and inside jokes. Radcliffe’s comic timing is spot on, and Chantry’s dialogue is full of comebacks that match that of Wallace, really putting anyone who thinks women aren’t as funny as men in their place. This is a rom-com with actual comedy oozing from all angles – I don’t think there’s an unfunny character in the whole thing.

I did wonder, however, who I was supposed to be rooting for – Wallace and Chantry are supposedly made for each other, but Chantry’s boyfriend Ben (Rafe Spall) is no bad egg. But maybe that’s the point – that love isn’t an all encompassing force, and there isn’t one solitary person for everyone – it can be a kind of messy affair. At times, the quirkiness did reach overload – do four young women in Toronto really go to a knitting club? Is that a thing? Or is it more movie shorthand for ‘these girls are not like other girls’? Chantry’s animation of a winged fairly girl (really pushing the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope to new limits) acts as a link between all the times she’s sad or thoughtful, something which soon wears thin as the animation flies along walls next to her, whenever she begins to question which of the two men at her disposal to choose from.

It’s got some great laugh out loud funny lines, and the chemistry between all of the cast feels very real, but the quirks sometimes err on the irksome.

Also check out the trailer for Horns, Radcliffe’s next film, on what looks set to be a tremendously interesting and exciting career.

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2 thoughts on “What If

  1. For the last couple of weeks I was thinking of watching this film but I was a bit apprehensive because it just looked like a typical romcom. But maybe now I will give it a try

  2. Pingback: What If | Tinseltown Times

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