‘What If’ overflows with charm and sincerity

"What If" is a modern twist on the classic love story that is lovable and fun.

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Mary Strother, Writer

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To those who only know him as The Boy Who Lived, watching Daniel Radcliffe play an often bumbling, yet witty protagonist in “What If” might be a surreal experience. For once, Radcliffe plays the average male character, and his only magical power is the ability to win over the girl of his dreams, played by Zoe Kazan.

The story begins with a meet cute at a local party. Radcliffe’s character Wallace, fresh off a bad break-up, instantly connects, albeit a bit awkwardly, with Kazan’s character Chantry. Only after he has walked her safely home for the evening does he learn that Chantry lives with her long-time boyfriend, Ben. His hopes of romance with this girl immediately dashed, the two decide they will remain friends and soon begin spending nearly all of their free time together.

At first, it seems genuinely true that the two only want to be friends, but inevitably the romantic cliche makes its appearance, and Wallace admits that he has fallen in love with Chantry. Things are not as easy as they seem; however, and Chantry does not immediately fall into Wallace’s arms. She remains dedicated to Ben, who is intelligent and ambitious. As more things begin to change in her life — Ben moves to Dublin for his work and she is offered a full-time job position in Taiwan — she struggles to decide what she really wants from life. In the end, Chantry decides to do what is best for her, providing a more feminist twist to the modern love story. Even though she does end up with Wallace, the importance lies in the fact that Chantry made these decisions on her own terms and that nothing was handed to her on the magical silver platter of the average romantic comedy.

Comedic relief comes from Wallace’s best friend Allan, played by the hilarious Adam Driver. Radcliffe and Kazan have well developed chemistry, and even though the script fumbles at times, it manages to work itself out into an honest, goofy love story. It may not be a perfect film, but it is sincerely charming and provides much more heart than many of its romantic counterparts these days. Overall, “What If” is a film worth the Redbox rental fee.

 

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‘What If’ overflows with charm and sincerity