I didn’t particularly like 500 Days of Summer so when the critics began waxing lyrical about Daniel Radcliffe’s first foray into Rom Coms being a film of its ilk I wasn’t exactly jumping for joy.
Having never been particularly tempted by Lena Dunham’s Girls either, I was even more sceptical when told it’d be right up any fan of the HBO show’s alley.
Luckily, I was already in my seat by the time that second bombshell was dropped, because I doubt I would have given What If a chance otherwise.
As one of the Newsround generation who watched the bulletin calling for kids to send in VHS audition tapes for Harry Potter, I was pleasantly surprised to see Radcliffe had grown up at more or less the same speed as I did.
His performances in the infamous franchise may have been a little lackluster (he said it himself) but now he’s found the magic.
What If, for those of you who may not know, tells the tale of a young fella named Wallace who doesn’t really believe in love. He has his reasons and they’re rather valid, but when his roommate’s cousin Chantry (Zoe Kazan) waltzes into his life he’s left eating his own words.
Pity she has a boyfriend, eh? It doesn’t help that he’s played wonderfully by Rafe Spall either.
Determined to keep this lovely lady in his life, Wallace agrees to be “just friends” and attempts to develop a slightly more platonic bond with Chantry. I know, I know, I know. Believe me.
The roommate (Adam Driver of Girls fame) and his new missus (Mackenzie Davis) have other ideas though: They’re convinced he should just try to lob the gob on the young wan.
Now I’m not usually a fan of these so-called Indie Rom Coms but there’s something about What If that managed to reel me in.
Radcliffe’s ability to make you forget he ever had a scar drawn on his forehead, Kazan’s ridiculous likeability, AND the fact that the other half was actually LAUGHING the whole way through instead of sulking in that “I know the tickets were free but did we REALLY have to come to this?” fashion, ensured that What If hit all the right notes.
Ok, so on the scale of 1 to Dawson’s Creek I found the dialogue a tad unrealistic (I genuinely don’t know anyone who speaks that way folks, sorry) but everything else about the story just seemed to ring true.
Except the scenes set on Dublin’s Camden Street, which were clearly NOT filmed on Camden Street lads. They actually came to Dublin to film them but ended up heading a tad further south of the Liffey by the looks of it.
It’s the leading lad and lady that drive this little tale though and they do so with style. Their acerbic wit is a welcome replacement for the tired and over-egged elaborate sweet talk that characterised films like The Notebook, and it’s genuinely refreshing to see them engaging in pursuits like a spot of hipster knitting and lone late night cinema visits.
The fact that there’s a Princess Bride reference for both of them in there doesn’t do any harm either.
And you can’t forget the superb supporting cast either. I’ve already mentioned Rafe Spall (of I Give It A Year errr, fame) who plays the boyfriend you shouldn’t really want her to dump, but there are equally brilliant British performances from Jemima Rooper (Wallace’s sister) and Oona Chaplin (yer wan from Game of Thrones).
The Americans aren’t too bad either: Driver sails through the tale effortlessly while Mackenzie Davis compliments him wonderfully, and vice versa. It’s Megan Park who really steals the show though, positively oozing something of a Regina George style charm as Chantry’s newly-single sister.
Kazan more than lives up to her illustrious reputation but Radcliffe (who just so happened to be on hand to introduce the film for us AND stuck around for a Q&A afterwards) is the real winner here.
It’s a real pity he never gave the genre a go before now eh? Harry Potter’s tale might have ended differently.
He can hang up that cloak and broomstick for good: The boy who lived is now the man who lived to tell the tale.
What If (or The F Word if you’re living outside the UK & Ireland) is in cinemas now.