Movie Review: What If (2013)

What if poster

Wallace: “In fairy tales, love inspires you to be noble and courageous, but in real life, love is just an all-purpose excuse for selfish behavior. You can lie and cheat and hurt people, and it’s all okay because you’re in love.”

Plot: Wallace, who is burned out from a string of failed relationships, forms an instant bond with Chantry, who lives with her longtime boyfriend. Together, they puzzle out what it means if your best friend is also the love of your life.

Rating: 7/10

After weeks and weeks of not really watching movies (Code: Gossip Girl Marathon) I finally managed to sit down and get some movie time in. I chose What If, a movie with some good reviews and positive scores online. I enjoy romantic comedies and love a feel good movie, so that made me quite keen to give this a go.

 What if 1

Firstly, What If is the definitely the hipster version of a romcom. All the characters are quirky and it is obvious that they went to great lengths to make this movie original and less cheesy than what would be expected from this genre. The dialogue is fast and witty and the characters seem very human with their insecurities and faults.

Daniel Radcliffe is Wallace, a man whose life is not going as planned. After finding his girlfriend kissing their teacher, Wallace drops out of medical school and takes a miserable job. After his friend Allan (Adam Driver) convinces him to attend a party, he meets Chantry (Zoe Karzan) and he accepts her request for friendship when she clearly tells him she’s already in a relationship, and they can only ever be friends.

Daniel Radcliffe was a great choice for Wallace. It is perhaps unfair to eternally reference his years as Harry Potter, but hey, if something awarded you with that much money and fame, deal with it cupcake. Radcliffe impressed me more as Wallace as he ever did as Potter. He was young and inexperienced in those movies, the acting was not always legit or even marginally good, but they have paid off: Daniel Radcliffe has turned into an authentic actor with greater capabilities than what anyone could have expected. Wallace is a brooding guy who drastically changed his life to stop him from becoming like his parents. He is a loner with a quirky sense of humor that doesn’t work for everyone.  In other words, he is relatable to anyone with someof their own quirks.

Zoe Karzanshines as the female lead. She is unlike the outrageous female stereotype that Hollywood pushes on its viewers: she looks like a normal girl and she is beautiful in an everyday kind of way. She’s also a decent actress, and the chemistry between her and Radcliffe is strong. I really liked that Chantry chose her career, even when things were looking up between her and Wallace, because Chantry,and all girls around the world deserves a chance to make something of their lives. I loved the relationship between her and her sister – the way they talk to each other is shockingly like the way my sisters and I talk to each other. That tummy scene? Yep, we’ve done it about ten million times.

I would have loved to have seen a bit more of Wallace’s sister and nephew; they were mostly ignored and underdeveloped. The whole scene where Ben falls out of the window is outrageous, and if someone pushed my boyfriend out of any window, even accidentally, I would not remain friends with them. I also thought that Ben’s macho behavior at his first introduction on screen did not fit with his personality throughout the movie.

I did like the length. There is nothing more despicable than a movie that drags when it is supposed to be done. The hour and forty minutes were enough to develop the characters, the situation to unfold and a decent ending.

It feels as if there was a nearly 500 days of Summer feel to the directing. What If is shot in a very arty way with some random animation floating around on the screen, reinforcing the whole “hipster-original-story” vibe.

 What if 2

What If is truly an enjoyable romcom with a more plausible than usual storyline, and the improbable events do not outweigh the possibility that this might actually happen. I did think at a few places that cheating on a partner was slightly glamorized, and even though the characters frequently expressed their disgust in the activity the theme was still explored positively.  Karzan and Radcliffe both gave impressive performances and it is surprising that Radcliffe fit so well into a romantic leading role. It is obviously a movie that some people will scoff at, but I think the majority would find it a not-so-nauseating romantic comedy to sit through.

11 thoughts on “Movie Review: What If (2013)

  1. I liked this one too. Not too corny, but very sweet. I agree with you about Radcliffe, I like where his career is going after Harry Potter, he’s been getting plenty of chances to really showcase his range as an actor. I usually find movies about friends falling in love kind of annoying and unbelievable. Maybe I’m just cynical and mean, but I don’t believe most men can make it out of the friend zone unless he was never truly in the friend zone to begin with, which seems to be the case here. That sounds a bit harsh though, doesn’t it? Haha.

    • Wow, someone that agrees with me! I’ve always maintained that the friendzone is place for lazy men who won’t do the work to get the girl and then want to moan about it because they think life’s unfair. Men should just state from the start that they want more and that the friendzone is not something they are interested in!

      I enjoyed this one. It’s better than many in the genre and Radcliffe and Karzan really looked well together.

    • You should – I imagine it would make a lovely film for a date night, and it isn’t something that will drive you insane with boredom. Hope you like it!

  2. I tend to like romcoms that feel realistic but those are hard to find. I agree with you What If feels plausible, that may be its biggest strength. I was surprised how much I ended up liking it. Also Radcliffe is making some good choices with roles moving away from the Harry Potter franchise.
    Great review!

    • I agree with you – romcoms can be fun when there is a chance it might actually happen. I really enjoy the roles he takes on right now – have you seen the Woman In Black? I thought he was quite decent in there.


  3. Hmmmmmm, I will definitely look into this. I fucking loved (500) Days of Summer, so if this has a similar feel, I am there. Plus it has Daniel Radcliffe in it, and I love his work (just NOT Potter), so I would check this out just for him. We will see… we will see. He has a movie coming with McAvoy and Mark Gatiss soon 🙂 🙂 I can’t wait, been waiting too long as is!

    Great work here, of course!

  4. This looks cute I’ve wondered about this one. I like the Zoe girl, she is cute and there is something about her that I like. I first saw her on the HBO mini-series Olive Kitteradge and she was really good! And yes it looks very hipster-ish!

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