Having departed from his second lifestyle of wizardry, Daniel Radcliffe pulled off a “so so” performance in “The Woman in Black”, and is now taking on a romantic comedy…Fingers crossed?
Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) is a young man who lives an unpolished life living with his sister and her son. A year earlier Wallace had dropped out of medical school after catching his girlfriend with another guy. He has since been a social recluse, avoiding his life in as many ways as he can. His friend Allan finally talks him in to going out and trying to have some fun. They attend a party where Wallace quickly becomes bored and starts arranging magnets on the refrigerator, where he is joined by Allan’s female cousin, Chantry (Zoe Kazan). Wallace and Chantry hit it off in their own personal way and before they know it, they are spending more and more time together as friends. The only problem for Wallace with moving forward is the giant roadblock so titled “boyfriend” that lives with Chantry.
I’m going to come right out with it and say that I mediumly (I make up words, remember?) enjoyed this film. I’ve seen better acting, I have seen and read better stories, and I have been far more entertained with simpler things…and yet…something about this film really captivated me. I think that “something” refers to the realism of the fiction. The story relates to anyone who has ever been in love. The challenges tied to loving someone are nonetheless difficult to overcome. In fact, many of the things we find ourselves doing in the name of this so called “love” are surprisingly undesirable and absurd under typical conditions. If we could only take a step back and look at our crazy selves crawling through mud and jumping over the moon for that special someone, then we would probably find ourselves in awe at our actions.
Though this film doesn’t exaggerate to the same extent the power of love as I just described, it does awaken the part of us that does or has loved someone. Love is funny, silly, playful, and then it’s downright depressing, agonizing, and cruel. Love is the bipolar kid that no one would ever be friends with because of the intense alterations in mood. “What If” expresses some of these emotions. Wallace is immediately taken with Chantry though he won’t admit it. But that’s a fun aspect of fresh love…denying it’s existence as we withhold our excitement for as long as we can. When we finally do let out the excitement, then we have to take a breather and decide what to do. This is where the movie really gets going.
Nothing about this film seems too good to be true. Many love stories are to simple and luck is the only factor in the joining of two individuals. On the other side of the spectrum, the movie wasn’t so fictitious that we just sit back shaking our heads in disappointment. The most accurate word I can think of to describe this film is “adequate”. It represents those young lovers of the world, struggling to be with the right person for whatever reason. It doesn’t overstep it’s boundaries for it knows it’s place. Sure, it wasn’t a movie I’ll be begging to watch again anytime soon, but I have to acknowledge a movie that actually seems realistic. For that, it has earned my admiration.
As a final thought, I’ll add that the humor was in short supply. There was honestly only one part that I really laughed at. Any other humor was simply so common that it slipped by me with my noticing. That was the film’s biggest disappointment. In addition, there was no “sap factor”. In other words this isn’t one of those sappy boo hoo movies that has your girlfriend crying on your shoulder. If your looking for such an excuse then pick a movie where dogs die, because this one isn’t for you. I only mention this characteristic because I also think the movie could have used a dash more of emotion. The story felt so real, and a great deal of the character relations did too. But I would have found it even more convincing with more emotion than was depicted.
Total Abstract Rating: 80%
Whether you are chasing someone who hasn’t noticed you, fighting with someone who did, or still seeking the right one, this movie will likely relate to you in one way or another. Reminding us all (as if we could forget) that love is a bitch…and that under the right circumstances, it can also be a pleasant sunset on the beach.
Thanks for reading!