Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan make a cute couple in an unexpectedly charming rom-com
Crass, ten-a-penny rom-coms have devalued the genre. Where's the charm these days? The warmth? What happened to 'the Lubitsch touch'? Despairing traditionalists should eagerly welcome What If (previously entitled The F Word), a sweetly engaging 21st century When Harry Met Sally... squeezing laughter and tears from the eternal dilemma of whether men and women can ever be just good friends.
Director Michael Dowse is better known for broad, bad taste comedies like Fubar and Goon but, working from Elan Mastai's smart adaptation of TJ Dawe and Michael Rinaldi's play Toothpaste and Cigars, he has created something with a wider appeal than any of his previous work. Believable characters, likable performances and attractive Toronto and Dublin locations all add to the fuzzy, feel-good factor of a film in the tradition of (500) Days of Summer.
Daniel Radcliffe proves himself a viable romantic leading man as Wallace, a lonely, vulnerable fellow with unrealistic expectations of love. He finds a soul-mate in Chantry (Zoe Kazan) who shares his sense of humour, antipathy to social gatherings and tendency toward awkward small talk. She is perfect in every respect but one: the fact that she already has a nice, decent boyfriend called Ben (Rafe Spall). Wallace and Chantry could be mature about this and settle for a firm friendship, couldn't they?
What If is not without its contrivances (especially when vital work sends Ben abroad) and it does recall the smarter end of television comedy, complete with bantering dialogue and a circle of concerned friends that include Wallace's best pal Allan (Adam Driver) and Chantry's sister Dalia (Megan Park). Incurable romantics will forgive the familiarity especially as a witty Radcliffe and a charming Kazan make the kind of cute couple that you will towards a happy ending. A light, unexpected delight.
General release from Wed 20 Aug.