Monday, August 18, 2014

Danaholics Exclusive: 'What' If Film Review

***a few minor spoilers, trailer spoilers, strong hints at the ending***

What If (formally the F Word) tells the story of Wallace(Daniel Radcliffe), a med school drop-out just after dealing with the after-effects of a messy break-up, who meets the delightful Chantry (Zoe Kazan) at a house party. Accidentally leaving at the same time he offers to walk her home and it is on this trip that he finds out that her boyfriend (Rafe Spall) is waiting for her at home. Although originally disappointed, on meeting her by chance again, a na├»ve Wallace thinks that he may possibly be happy being friends. How wrong was he.

What If is a delightful, funny, quirky and well cast film which although it doesn't break the rom-com mould, it does have a slightly different take on it. "Delightful, funny, quirky" are words you've probably heard in countless other reviews of this film so I'll go into further detail. It is delightful in the way in which the characters are drawn, Wallace is a likeable, relatable hopeless romantic who hides behind a shell of cynicism about love that proves to be endearing and at times may make you feel for his situation. Quirky - Chantry is not your usual rom-com female, she is smart, career-driven and has a sense of humour that edges on exactly what Adam Driver brings to the table - cringy & slightly uncouth jokes,. There are also lots of odd but memorable lines. Funny - this film doesn't rely on the laughs seen in the trailer, although these are funny. For example the bit where Wallace accidentally knocks Chantry's boyfriend Ben out the door has funny bits before and after that section. Adam Driver adds his two cents, improvising on certain occasions, but it is not overdone and it feels less cringy than his work in Girls.

As for What If as a rom-com, the ending although not surprising in it's entirety, the journey there is very 'will-they-won't-they' and there are points where you think that actually they won't. The journey afterwards as hinted at as the credits roll is also different from the norm, you'll see what I mean when you see the film. Further to this there isn't the usual 'oh I like this boy now I'll just instantly break up with him, or cheat on him'; Chantry remains true to the close, and by all means she is still in love with Ben for the duration of the movie. Ben, for the main part is not necessarily given the poor portrayal the boyfriend does in these types of situations but there are times when he's portrayed as a bit winey or baby-ish. Yet his original trip away for work is mentioned to Chantry first before making a decision. So for the main part the idea that Wallace has come to save Chantry from a terrible relationship isn't necessarily the way it is.

As regards acting, Daniel Radcliffe plays an endearing and sympathy-inducing Wallace with points of real emotion but also of comedy. Zoe Kazan captures your attention and it makes you want to be her friend, her loyalty to Ben even when she starts to doubt her feelings for Wallace makes her out to be a more noble person that most movie characters. Rafe Spall is both hilarious and somewhat likeable as Ben, if not a bit confused about the continents. Adam Driver, although his part is small, brings some contrast in terms of the male persona and opinion on love to the table as well as his usual brand of humour. His and Mackenzie Davis' Nicole add a nice little sub-plot, the less complicated route to finding a life companion. Chantry's  sister Dalia, played by Megan Park, adds some more Samantha Jones-esque humour and opinion to the female side of the plot.

Overall, though it had it's flaws as an escape from the usual predictable rom-com, it was still quite unique and thoroughly enjoyable. 

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