“What If” (2013) starring Daniel Radcliffe, Zoey Kazan, Megan Park, Adam Driver, Mackenzie Davis, & Rafe Spall

WHAT IF is the story of medical school dropout Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe), who’s been repeatedly burned by bad relationships. So, while everyone around him, incl. his best friend Allan (Adam Driver), seems to be finding the perfect partner, Wallace decides to put his love life on hold. It is then that he meets Chantry (Zoe Kazan), an animator, who lives with her longtime boyfriend Ben (Rafe Spall). Wallace and Chantry form an instant connection, striking up a close friendship. Still, there is no denying the chemistry between them, leading the pair to wonder, what if the love of your life is actually your best friend? -Synopsis from CBS Films

In Canada and the UK, this rom com (free on Amazon Prime) was called The F Word (as in “friend”); Hollywood changed it to avoid the R rating (LOL). It is based on the play titled Toothpaste & Cigars by T.J. Dawe and Michael Rinaldi. Radcliffe (at 25 y.o.) said that this role is the 1st contemporary character he’s ever played: “There was something lovely about just stepping up on set and talking.” The director (Michael Dawse) is Canadian; the screenwriter (Elan Mastai) later went on to work on the hit TV series This is Us (2016). The filmmakers brought the cast back together over 2 weekends to create a new ending, 18 mos. after the original one. Radcliffe was initially hesitant about changing the ending b/c of how much he loved the original (“kind of old-school Hollywood.”) After shooting and watching the screening, he was happy w/ the new ending.

Wallace: In fairy tales, love inspires you to be noble and courageous, but in real life, love is just an all-purpose excuse for selfish behavior. You can lie and cheat and hurt people, and it’s all okay because you’re in love.

I ONLY watched this movie for Driver (just keeping it real); this is his 1st rom com! I found the size difference between Radcliffe (5’5″) and Driver (6’3″) comedic. Their characters also have different personalities; Wallace lives in his head and is more of a thinker, while Allan is extroverted and acts on impulse. Allan and Nicole (Mackenzie Davis) have a love (or lust) at 1st sight connection at Allan’s house party. Driver and Davis (who I first noticed on Black Mirror) make a hot couple; both are V tall, lean, w/ frenetic energy. Driver brings humor and does well w/ what was given. The dancing scenes at the wedding are funny.

Allan: I just had s*x and I’m about to eat NACHOS! IT’S THE GREATEST MOMENT OF MY LIFE!

The relationship which develops between Wallace and Chantry (Allan’s cousin) is slow/complicated. I thought the scene where Wallace and Chantry meet by chance at a screening of The Princess Bride was cute. There was a LOT of banter (perhaps TOO much), esp. between Radcliffe and Kazan (w/ petite build and only 5’4″). Another petite actress (Sarah Gadon) plays a young doc who’s the ex-gf of Wallace; I really liked her performances in Belle and a Canadian TV series- Alias Grace. There are really NOT many stakes in this movie. Wallace is NOT interested in Dalia (Megan Park), the lovelorn/annoying sis of Chantry. Also, Ben (who is a nice guy) is sent off to Dublin for 6 mos. (removing possible tension between him and Wallace). I didn’t see the point of having the animation scenes. There are points where the movie drags. If you’re NOT a fan of the rom com genre, this may tax your patience.

Allan: It’s complicated. All this love shit’s complicated. And that’s good. Because if it’s too simple you’ve got no reason to try, and if you’ve got no reason to try, you don’t.

[1] Have you ever watched a film that was pretty good but easily could have been better? Well, that’s my reaction to What If… It’s a pretty decent little romance, but the film also sure looks like the script could have used a decent editing, as sometimes the dialog is needlessly offensive...

The film is much like the premise behind When Harry Met Sally. In other words, it questions whether a man and woman can be just friends and stay that way.

[2] Poor Daniel Radcliffe, it will be a long time before we think of him as anything else but Harry Potter. But give him credit, he is now establishing himself as a reliable young adult actor. After all he turned 25 in 2014 so these sorts of roles are appropriate for him.

[3] Adam Driver from Girls is a tamer version of Adam Sackler and he works quite well.

[4] …this film isn’t as quirky or as entertaining as it thinks it is…

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

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