For many people, Daniel Radcliffe will always be Harry Potter, but he’s making a strong case for that to be more in the sense that Harrison Ford will always be Han Solo than the Mark Hamill will only ever really be Luke Skywalker one.
In What If Radcliffe stars as Wallace, a nice guy who is so purely romantic that he’s become a bit cynical thanks to the slings and arrows of life. After spending the better part of a year avoiding romantic involvement, or much social interaction at all, following a particularly unpleasant bust up Wallace meets Chantry (Zoe Kazan), his best friend’s cousin, and possibly the girl of his dreams. As life and luck would have it, she already has a serious boyfriend, leaving Wallace to contend with the question of how to proceed: he can choose to be a silently suffering friend who wants more, to cut her out of his life or to risk her friendship and make a move.
Admittedly, the concept is a worn one, and a well worn one at that, but What If tackles the question more respectably than most any film in the post When Harry Met Sally era. Though it often has banter reminiscent of When Harry Met Sally, What If is best described as a collision of 500 Days of Summer and My Best Friend’s Wedding –– it has something of a renegade spirit, but it’s also a comedic love story, and doesn’t shirk away from either the tender nor awkward moments that entails.
Radcliffe and Kazan enjoy a palpable chemistry and their present, but unacknowledged attraction to one another is contrasted, often hilariously, by the no-holds-barred relationship between Chantry’s cousin/Wallace’s BFF Allan (Adam Driver) and his lady love, Nicole (Halt and Catch Fire’s Mackenzie Davis).
What If follows the predictable path of most romantic comedy films, but it is charming every step of the way, and quite often rewards viewers with unexpected laughter and enjoyable performances.