Roze-Rating: 4 / 5
After getting his heart broken, Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) takes a long break from the dating world, and is adamant about his cynical standpoint about love. This soon changes when he meets Chantry (Zoe Kazan), a love interest at first glance only to learn the gutting news that she has a boyfriend of several years. A coincidental run in later they make truths to become friends, not letting their feelings get in the way of their friendship. As we all know, that never works.
‘What If’ sounds like your conventional Rom-Com on paper and it pretty much is. It tries its best to stray away from overdone plot points that we have seen in the past. Which makes for a less deja vu induced viewing but ultimately it isn’t anything original. What I’ve learnt from these traditional Rom-Com’s is that the story only plays a small part towards its success. We wouldn’t be watching these films if we weren’t hopeless romantics or participating in weekend date nights with our significant other. What makes these films enjoyable are the characters and the chemistry they have within their intertwined relationships. Without chemistry, especially from the leads, there would be no romance or any reason to feel a connection to the film. ‘What If’ benefits from two talented leads who ooze chemistry. You don’t always get to see chemistry between characters as natural and grounded as this in the Rom-Com genre.
This film also benefits from a down to earth script which is genuinely funny and is for the most part successful. I like how the story is clearly used and done before but the actions and rationale of the characters are grounded and realistic. It is an awkward situation, to like someone who is in a relationship. There will be hesitation and internal debate whether to pursue that person or not. Motivating that thought, “what if?”. I found the exploration of that quite interesting and relatable. Nothing too extravagant or unrealistic happens throughout this film, I found that to be a pleasant departure from those Rom-Coms which are overly dramatic or glamorized. It’s simply about a guy who realizes it’s a lot easier to be cynical about love than to go out and find it. It’s idealistic but an interesting theme of the film. As for the comedy, the cast are to praise. There are some great nuanced moments which are both cute and funny thanks to the performances. This again, relating to how well the cast seems to gel in those crucial one on one scenes. A moment I particularly found funny is when Chantry’s sister explains her experience with Wallace from the night before, it’s quite apparent that there’s no intention to cause drama but to voice her embarrassment. She then proceeds to make her belly look pregnant, I found that a lot funnier than I should have, but I guess I was more surprised that I’m not the only one who partakes in such quirk.
I haven’t seen Daniel Radcliffe since the Harry Potter films, and I regret not following his career since then as he plays the endearing Englishman unlucky in love perfectly. His decisions have been both interesting and diverse swaying away from high budget blockbusters, and I’m genuinely looking forward to his next projects. Adam Driver on the other hand is a revelation, having starred in films such as Inside Llewyn Davis, This is Where I Leave You and many more, playing both comedic and dramatic roles which I am looking forward to catching up on. As for his Star Wars gig, it will be interesting seeing how he comes off in a massive blockbuster film.
What If may not offer anything new in the Rom-Com genre but it does offer a beautifully shot ninety minutes of endearing characters and infectious on screen chemistry with a pretty banging soundtrack.