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'What If' is Not a Daring Romantic Comedy

What If


Though it concludes quite predictably and fails to (inspiringly) controvert the point it initially made—females and males, for some reason, just can't exist solely as friends (interesting themes that could've been further explored in that realm)—What If is still incredibly endearing. The film is a rare rom-com that's benefited by sharp, witty, romantic—yet realistic—dialogue and two outstandingly lovable leads in Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan. The two (Wallace and Chantry, respectively) happen to meet at a party in a short span of time, formally instigating a pact to remain as friends—no romantic considerations whatsoever, especially since Chantry already has a big shot for a boyfriend—thereby challenging the conventional notion of male-female relationships/friendships.

The audience will quickly steer towards her relationship with Radcliffe, deeming it almost impossible that they don't end up together by the end (excusing the rom-com cliché, of course) because of their spirited, zesty, and remarkably dynamic chemistry—two hopeless romantics who'd rather talk about the deepest of subjects, or delve further into a topic than others usually would, rather than superficially flirt with one another in an incessant manner as is the societal standard. On that note, instead of wasting a narrative's potential by outlining it with the formulaic structure that makes most of its genre frankly unbearable to witness, the majority of the duration is spent on these two interesting characters as friends, giggling and joking and hanging out with friends and shopping. We don't have the instant one-night stand upon their encounter or the trite affair reveals that conveniently lead to the next plot point.

Thankfully, the viewer is given time to believe in this potentially heartwarming relationship—a uniquely attractive/cute and quirky woman and a charming, authentic man who honestly has nothing spectacular going on in his life. Perhaps, I'm simply biased in this matter, but you would think that the most relatable romantic comedies would make for the most common and beloved, but that seems to not be the case. Instead, Hollywood gives us repulsive banalities like Something Borrowed and Bride Wars (both of them have Kate Hudson; what a strange coincidence). It's not the loud, obnoxious, and effortless relationships that resonate but the awkward, slow, and naturally evolving; something like the Before trilogy sticks out in that case and while not exactly a romantic comedy, it cements itself as the greatest of romantic movies and the greatest of movies in general. I believe there's an effective concept/design there for studios to consider in future romantic pictures, whether they're comedic or dramatic.

With that being said, What If is not a daring romantic drama; so don't expect any narrative risk-taking and thought-provoking themes about relationships and whatnot, but it's remarkably fun and effectively funny regardless. The story also has the company of the always-hilarious and (usually) likable Adam Driver who plays a caring and kind friend (something you don't see too often but you'd love to see anyway). With the right expectations, What If is certainly a sweet treat that makes you feel good and enamors you with its on-screen romance.

Guest Reviewer

Film Muscle