What If?

By Aminta Nieves-Candamo

Published on Friday, August 8, 2014

WHAT IF – based on the play “Cigars and Toothpaste” by T. J. Dawe and Michael Rinaldi. Daniel Radcliffe plays a Toronto-based pre-med dropout, Wallace, who decides to put his love life on hold, while hiding at his sister’s attic after a bad break up for a year. Wallace meets animator Chantry (Zoe Kazan) at a party thrown by close friend Allan (Adam Driver), who happens to be Chantry’s cousin and they have an instant connection.

What Chantry failed to mention, until the end of the night, is that she lives with her longtime boyfriend Ben (Rafe Spall). After various attempts from Wallace to avoid her, they run into each other at a screening of “The Princess Bride,” to which both attended by themselves, their attraction quickly evolves when they realize they have more in common than what they’d like to admit, leaving Wallace without any option other than to settle, and make anyone believe, he’s ok with being Chantry’s “friend.”

But suddenly, Ben leaves town for an extended business trip, Wallace spends more and more time around her. Forcing them to get closer, leading to expectations that things could turn physical at any moment. Friends start to pressure Wallace to say something about his feelings for her and that’s when everything goes wrong. But don’t worry, this story, surprisingly has a happy ending…

One of the main things that attracted me to this movie (besides Dan, obviously) was the simplicity within the complicated subject. Can a man and a woman be just friends? Can friends be something more? The answer to these questions might be: Maybe? but it’s definite a case to case scenario.


Adam Driver plays the classic crazy eccentric friend character he plays so well in the tv series “Girls” so he is obviously the comedic relief of the movie with the beautiful Mackenzie, who plays his girlfriend, who he also met at his own party. But the biggest surprise was Radcliffe’s fast pace wit, while playing the usually likable character and I personally like to think that he is like that in real life because is nothing but a riot. Even though Wallace and Allan seem really opposite, it makes total sense for them to be friends in the story, you can feel how much Allan cares about Wallace enough to give him advice and encouragement when he really needed it, but also to call him out on his crap when he felt he was sabotaging the situation.

Although this movie combines all the classic (and honestly overused) romantic comedy elements, it might remind you a bit of When Harry Met Sally and 500 Days of Summer; I find it quite refreshing to see Radcliffe playing a more normal character to whom we all can relate (he’s just a dude dealing with the emotional aftermath of being cheated on) and we can easily fall in love with his story and inevitably root for him, without all the sci-fi – supernatural – murders getting in the way like in previous movies.

Casey Affleck was originally attached to play the lead, but was later replaced by Radcliffe. THANK the RomCom gods for that!!

“What If” opens ups in selected theaters on August 8, 2014.

For those in the DMV it will be shown first at the Landmark Theaters in Bethesda Row Cinema.

Filmmakers

  • Directed By: Michael Dowse
  • Written By: Elan Mastai
  • Produced By: David Gross, Jesse Shapira, Jeff Arkuss, Macdara Kelleher, Andre Rouleau

Cast

  • Daniel Radcliffe …………………………………………………. Wallace
  • Zoe Kazan (Revolutionary Road, It’s Complicated) ………… Chantry
  • Adam Driver (Girls, Star Wars Episode VII) …………………. Allan
  • Rafe Spall (Life of Pi, Prometheus) ………………………….. Ben
  • Megan Park (The Secret Life of the American Teenager) …. Dalia
  • Mackenzie Davis (That Awkward Moment) …………………. Nicole
  • Oona Chaplin: (Quantum of Solace, Game of Thrones) ….. Julianne

 

The Good

+ Beautiful animation from the female character, weaving her feelings with key scenes.

+ Wit! Wit! and lots of Wit!!

+ Radcliffe playing a normal character for once and actually being funny.

+ Gorgeous shots all over Toronto.


The Bad

- Predictable.

Verdict7.5

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