Despite its title this isn’t a film about ‘if’, it’s about ‘when’. Yet as it progresses, sometimes ploddingly, to the inevitable conclusion the long-awaited coupling of Wallace (Radcliffe) and Chantry (Kazan) doesn’t always seem a sure thing.
Partly thanks to this smidgen of suspense the film is an enjoyable ride, transcending the storytelling prowess of many romcoms by providing its protagonists with convincing backstories, though they’re delivered via a clunky narrative device.
Charming animation sporadically invades and is given free reign for the closing credits, but What If’s insistently repetitive circularity contributes to the clichés of this will-they-won’t-they tale.
Billed as the best romcom since (500) Days of Summer, What If doesn’t quite earn this praise but it allows Daniel Radcliffe to shine as a leading man almost as magnetic as Joseph Gordon-Levitt. There’s no awkward Harry Potter-esque first kiss for him here; this is a frank but fun story of frustrated attraction, denial and emotional adultery, though with a far more conventional wish-fulfilling conclusion than (500) Days of Summer.
CAST: Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Adam Driver, Megan Park, Rafe Spall
DIRECTOR: Michael Dowse
WRITERS: Elan Mastai (screenplay), T.J. Dawe and Michael Rinaldi (play)
SYNOPSIS: Wallace (Radcliffe) meets Chantry (Kazan) at a friend’s party and is instantly enthralled. They hit it off but there’s a problem; Chantry’s long-term boyfriend Ben (Spall). Cue an agonizing couple of months for Wallace, spending strictly platonic time with Chantry in the hope it’ll lead to more.