Daniel Radcliffe is something of a household name for college students; having grown up with him throughout his years in Harry Potter, to grow into the man and fantastic actor he is today. This August he'll be set to star in What If, a romantic comedy starring himself beside Zoe Kazan adapted from the 2013 play called The 'F' Word by T.J. Dawe and Michael Rinaldi. The screenplay, adapted for theaters everywhere by Elan Mastai, is a masterful work of art for a number of reasons we'll address in context now.
For starters, just by the film's trailer, you get the vibe that it's as charming and witty as it is philosophical and deep. Rather than smacking you in the face with overbearing love, outplayed themes where in the end "love was right in front of you all along," or using slapstick humor to draw your attention away from how droll the screenplay actually is, What If uses natural comedy, and plays brilliantly off the actors' charisma to bring you something worth spending a couple of hours getting all mushy over.
The story follows one of the most classic, and not uncommon, awkward moments a lot of us have; we meet the right person, right as they're already involved with somebody else. Throughout the narrative, the main character Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) attempts to, unsuccessfully -- a fact that is obvious and deemed impossible by everyone else -- juggle a platonic relationship with someone he has a sexual and romantic interest in. Not all romantic comedies can keep a gripping, natural, and well-paced plot while also still managing to garner a few genuine chuckles, but it's fair to say that What If will give us a good dose of both. Radcliffe may have made his fame through Harry Potter and scored top marks in a dramatic horror film, as well as a number of noteworthy plays, but this is the first time we get to see him play a real raw character in the modern age. It's a refreshing change of pace.
Overall the first look at the film has me feeling like it isn't forcing itself onto you. The plot and portrayal of modern love is smart, full of depth, and that natural flow is what gives it a comedic edge; huge points for not having to churn out one good joke for every 20 minutes of run-time. Perhaps the best part of all though, is that it also doesn't seem like a cynical or sad depiction of a lonely guy caught in the worst of circumstances, or rather, an examination of how the good guy gets passed over while the long-term boyfriend is a cheating ass. Instead of being introduced to the unbearable reality that unhealthy and often abusive relationships are stayed in because of family ties, or what have you, we get something that makes us a bit less physically ill, and for that, we thank the writer's behind it. What If instead seems like it's going to give us a faithful representation of...life, with just the right amount of creativity to keep it from being as boring as, well, actual life.
With Zoe Kazan as the love interest/triangle creator, Chantry, and Adam Driver -- who towers over Radcliffe -- set as the protagonist's best friend and perhaps confidant Allan, the film bears a terrific cast that isn't panned with too many Hollywood stars, and ultimately, the chemistry works, which is more important than recognizing the people on screen.
If we're to go on the trailer alone, I'd have to score this movie a good 4/5 stars, but the anticipation is building. According to IMDb, What If is set to premiere in theaters on August 8, so stay tuned for more news and reviews as we get closer to the release date. You can check out the trailer by clicking here, and let us know in the comments what you think about Radcliffe's first transition into an unexpected choice of genre.