After capturing our hearts as child and teen star from Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe tries to capture our hearts as an adult in romantic comedy What If. He plays Wallace the type of guy who spends his weekday nights watching The Princess Bride on his own. At a house party with best friend Allan played by Adam Driver, he cast aside as Allan meets the love of his life Nicole (Mackenzie Davies.) He is left to awkwardly interact with Allan’s cousin Chantry (Zoe Kazan.) they eventually connect and leave the party. After receiving her phone number and finding out she has a boyfriend they part ways. Wallace disposes of her number but a chance encounter brings them together again and after an appeal from Chantry agrees he could do with a new friend while nursing his broken heart.
The character work in What If is what makes this film. Radcliffe’s natural charm brings our sympathy which can only be achieved through a realised character. Adam Driver as Allan is the ultimate show stealer who holds the screen whenever present. The only real short coming being Zoe Kazan’s quirky Chantry. Her dough eyed indecisiveness becomes grating as she plays with Wallace and boyfriend Ben. In another rom-com performance that doesn’t live up to Ruby Sparks.
The on-off relationship plays out along a back drop of usual rom-com tripe. Wild drunken nights, bonfire beach parties and skinny dipping. Ground that is very well trodden. Director Michael Dowse uses Toronto in style befitting of Allen & New York, but cannot recapture the same uniqueness of Annie Hall. The character work is better than the empty shells we’ve come to expect from romantic comedies.
Daniel Radcliffe is perfect for this role and has taken to it extremely well. A character I’m happy to accept, if only it could have been accompanied by a story from off the beaten path.