What If

What If
Zoe Kazan and Daniel Radcliffe try to observe the proximity rules...CBS Films
High 3 StarsWhy I Saw It: Press screening, enjoyed Kazan’s Ruby Sparks, and always curious for more post-Potter Radcliffe (loved Kill Your Darlings).
What I Thought:  This generation’s version of When Harry Met Sally… and I’m so glad they have it. And now I want to see Zoe Kazan as someone menacing, like Nicole Kidman’s Suzanne Stone Maretto.

What If. Dir. Michael Dowse. Perf. Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Adam Driver, Rafe Spall, Megan Park, Mackenzie Davis. CBS Films, 2014.

A young man meets a young lovely and they become fast friends, but she has a longtime live-in boyfriend, so he agrees to remain in the friend zone….

Well here’s a first: I need to see this a second time before I feel like I can comment on it with real integrity. I was fewer than 24 hours clear of this one and still reeling, so What If didn’t receive my full presence, I must admit.

That said, it was very charming indeed, well executed, whimsical, and yet possessed of enough maturity that it held up as a genuine story worth caring about. Everyone concerned showed honest respect for the healthy, long term relationship underway both in word and  deed (how refreshing!), and it was nice to see people genuinely balancing life priorities rather than milling around in high school-level machinations (although there was one pretty funny, if ill-advised practical joke). Relationship was about more than hookup du jour, and there were no convenient villians to rationalize self-serving behavior. Real people, real concerns, real affection, real consequence, real accountability, and no easy answers within its very easy vibe.

Radcliffe and Kazan enjoy a nice chemistry (though I wasn’t quite sure of that at the outset), and while What If didn’t require a great deal of them, they and their equally minimally-challenged castmates turned in believable and winning portrayals. A less noticeable accomplishment is its transition from stage to film, one not always made elegantly; so often, the film just smacks of being a two-dimensional version of its source, which of course it is, but of course needn’t be. Here one wouldn’t even know it but for the credits. Well done, all.

The video below has nothing whatsoever to do with the movie, and it contains no hints or spoilers, but I’m sharing it below just as something fun. I saw it just after seeing the film, and can attest that if you enjoy the vibe of this video, you’ll be charmed by What If.

 

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