When Wallace, a cynical med school dropout, meets Chantry, a quick witted animator, it seems to be love at first sight. But love came at the wrong time. Wallace is recovering from a particularly awful breakup and Chantry is committed to her boyfriend of five years, so the two decided to be “just friends.” As their friendship blossoms, so does a hidden love. What If asks the age old question: Can guys and girls really be friends "Is it ever sane or healthy to live in denial about how you feel about something?" (Daniel Radcliffe).
In a world of Nicholas Sparks and Rachel McAdams chick flicks romances, What If is a pleasant change of pace. Reminiscent of When Harry Met Sally and 500 Days of Summer, this romantic comedy hits all right notes. What If succeeds with a relatable story, quirky characters, and a brilliantly hilarious cast. What If is a romantic comedy for the modern age.
Here is what I love most about this film: Wallace and Chantry are painfully relatable characters. Everyone knows them. The “Wallace” who is cynical about all things love, and believes you can never be truly happy. Or the “Chantry” who is morally uncorrupt, always looking at the positive, and who believes love is a powerful force that will help anyone find happiness. I’m not going to lie, I relate unimaginable to Wallace; a big ball of self loathing, skeptical about the concept of true love, and hiding his true feelings within a joke. So, I spent the entire movie frustrated at Wallace’s lack of motivation to find his own happiness, to stop going through the motions of life and start living it. But that’s what makes great characters, isn’t it. The ones you want to yell at or force your useless advice upon are the characters that touch a cord with you. They are the ones that you really understand and relate to.
Chantry provided the perfect balance to Wallace’s sarcastic nature. She’s bouncy, bright, and just the right amount of quirky. The pair created a perfect ebb and flow of banter and eccentricity. I think the best moments of the film where Wallace and Chantry’s scenes. They were entertaining and funny, but so desperately sad. The chemistry between the characters was the best bit of this film. They are just ordinary people. They are you and me.That’s what makes them so attractive.
It was so much fun finally seeing Daniel Radcliffe in modern role... And he totally killed it too. Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan had such fantastic chemistry; they made Wallace and Chantry just any budding lovers. Sometimes with comedy, you see actors try too hard to make a joke funny, but that wouldn't be at all true with Daniel and Zoe. Nothing felt overdone in their performances. It was natural and extremely funny.
Just like the leads, the supporting actors played such an important part in telling this story. Adam Drive was absolutely hysterical in every scene he was in, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved Megan Park's Dalia. Plus, Mackenzie Davis was just wonderfully aggressive, and Rafe Spall was just the perfect boyfriend... Too bad for him.
Overall, Michael Dowse’s direction was… alright. There were some interesting shots, and Rodger Stoffers’ cinematography gave the film a beautiful look. I did love the long pauses on the actor’s expressions, revealing the true passion and desperation in their eyes, but other than that there wasn’t really much that impressed me. And, quite frankly, I truly disliked the use of the animated Chantry. It didn’t make any sense to me... I guess I missed the metaphor. All the animation did for me was distract me from the story. Every time that flying Chantry came onto the screen, I was thrown right out of the plot, and back into the cold movie theater.
As for the screenplay, I was tickled pink with the fun What If brought. Like many reviewers have said, What If doesn't break any boundaries, but it is a fun loving story about the unconventional relationship of romance and friendship. What If had some absolutely hilarious moments, which really does make you laugh out loud. It's the story of the twenty-somethings looking for their way in the world, one mistake at a time. The only thing I would change is a little less fluff ball quirky scenes with rapid fire jokes, and more serious dramatic moments. The few that were in the film were spectacularly performed, and I would have loved some more. Although I did think there were problems with pacing-- I felt the story moved too fast, and I would have loved to have some more poignant moments between Wallace and Chantry-- I thoroughly enjoyed What If.
With absolutely wonderful characters and cast, but some proficient technicalities, I give What If 6/10.
Originally Posted on Actor.Nerd.Fashionista on August 30, 2014
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