What If 

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UK Release Date 21st August 2014
Director Michael Dowse
Starring Radcliffe Kazan Driver
Runtime 98 minutes
Certificate 15
Reviewer Jo
Reviewed 22nd August 2014

What If can lend itself to all sorts of jokes, the kind of jokes people made about If Only, another little Indie romcom, one that didn’t do very well. Jokes like - What If RPatz had said yes, what if they’d had more money, what if there was a better script, what if Daniel Radcliffe was taller. And so on and so on. Don’t get me wrong What If is not a total waste of your money; it’s just a rather lightweight little rom com with some funny moments. It is charming, well cast, well directed with quite a good script but one can’t help but feel it was cobbled together by a producer who was given a big bag of money to make a film set in Toronto and Ireland. Whilst it’s certainly nothing we’ve not seen before it has a good indie heart and a lovely cast.   

Heartbroken Wallace (Radcliffe) sits up on the roof staring at his phone. He’s just dumped his cheating ex Megan, dropped out of medical school and is in a dead end job creating user manuals. Crucially, to Wallace that is, he dumped her, he got out while the going was....erm..bad. So now Wallace is living life with his strange theory on love that if ‘it starts dirty it ends dirty’. He also lives in his sister’s attic room. Life isn’t exactly a bowl of cherries right now for our young Englishman in Toronto. At his best friend Allan’s party, whilst making a poem from fridge magnets (Love is drunken monkeys dancing in a hurricane, I thought that was pretty accurate actually!) he encounters Allan’s cousin, Chantry (Kazan) a kooky, cute animator and they immediately have a connection. They actually talk to each other and make each other laugh, bonding over scatological tales and what a Fool’s Gold really is (Google it if you’re not planning to see the movie). Safari so good right? Well what kind of a film would that be? Of course our cute Chantry already has a boyfriend, and a pretty impressive one at that in the shape of Ben (a some what too likeable Rafe Spall) who is a handsome lawyer for the UN. So there’s the What If. Can they be friends? Is Wallace simply biding his time to get into Chantry’s pants? Should they even be together? 

Maybe the bigger question in What If is do we really care? The answer is, well yes, for the most part. The script, penned by Elen Mastai (writer of Most Vertical Primate. Yes really) and adapted from T.J Dawes play, Toothpaste and Cigars is smart and funny with the dialogue, the plot at times goes somewhat awry and there are some moments that really don’t make any sense. It’s down to Radcliffe and Kazan’s likeability factor that one doesn’t totally lose interest in the film. 

It’s an interesting premise for a romantic comedy because actually for part of it I didn’t really want Wallace and Chantry to get together, Ben is such a lovely character and Rafe Spall should come with a trademark of ‘nicest man in England’ or something because that’s what his lovely puppy dog face makes you feel like.  You just want to cuddle him, not have him accidentally pushed out of a window (one of the very funny set pieces). So that dynamic is interesting and also weird and whilst Radcliffe and Kazan have a lovely chemistry and Radcliffe is very funny, with a great deadpan delivery, I’m not entirely sold on him as a romantic lead. 

Adam Driver is Allan, the standard ‘funny’ best friend and really he is just another, less malicious version of his character in Girls. Adam Driver is a mother********* genius as far as I am concerned, extremely funny and strangely attractive but one can’t help but feel it is a tad familiar. He still gets all the best lines and is the main reason I laughed out loud. Allan is the antithesis to Wallace’s love theory, he meets Nicole (a fabulous Mackenzie Davis) and they go hell for leather (in all ways). Their love moves at breakneck speed with no worries about the future and you can see these are two people made for each other.  How lucky they are to have found each other. Wallace is sandwiched, literally at times, in between these two and their opposing views on love are nicely played against each other. There’s also nice support from Jemima Rooper as Wallace’s sister and a funny cameo from the ever-brilliant Oona Chaplin as a Brazilian temptress. 

Michael Dowse previously directed It’s all Gone Pete Tong and Goon. Hmmmm. Anyway he’s created some nice, unusual moments in What If. A lovely scene in the dressing room of a clothes shop, a skinny dip that goes wrong. There’s nice use of location and the use of Chantry’s animation of herself as a bird flying around or sometimes falling is nicely handled and enchanting. Stick around through the end credits if you like the animation as there’s a lovely end sequence.

So this funny thing called What If. Not really sure if I am recommending or not, it made me laugh and made me relatively happy so definitely worth a jaunt to the cinema but equally it may be one to wait for a more home based release. Nicely covering all bases there. We don’t want to get letters from you guys asking for your cinema money back. We can’t afford it.

Check out the trailer here.

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