This past weekend, I rented the film What If mainly because I’ve been enjoying Daniel Radcliffe’s post-Harry Potter work (don’t even get me started on how much I love the twisted movie adaptation of Horns). But the romantic film features Zoe Kazan, and I realized that she’s been the romantic lead for three movies that I watched, two of them I liked. So, like those annoying multi-part movies that turn what should be one movie into three, I’m writing three reviews over the next three days, and I’m dubbing them Romance Recommendations—the Zoe Kazan Edition!
What If (2013): The film starring Zoe Kazan as Chantry and Daniel Radcliffe as Wallace takes place in Toronto. It’s a boy meets girl, girl flirts with boy, boy likes girl, girl has a boyfriend storyline. In fact, the original title to the film was “The F Word”, making a play on words about “friends” only, right? Most of the film focuses on Wallace’s frustrations as every interaction with Chantry is fun and brings out the best in him. Over time, Chantry relies more heavily on Wallace instead of her boyfriend Ben (Rafe Spall). When Ben takes off for Dublin for his job and leaves the two of them, the tension grows. Despite the interference to bring them together by Wallace’s friends Allan (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Mackenzie Davis), who play the romantic foils who are head over heels crazy in love to the main characters’ cool reserve, it takes the full movie to get Wallace and Chantry together.
I wanted to like the movie more than I did. But several things held it back. One, the screenplay was based off a play Toothpaste and Cigars, and for most of the movie, it felt like it was a play trying to be a film. What I mean by that is, it was just too cool for its own good. It was lmost, and I hate using this word, hipster cool—like some people choose to dub it cool, and it’s so cool that I can’t understand how cool it really is. There are funny moments, but it’s not a romantic comedy. There’s the love triangle, but Ben is so lame, he almost feels like that plot device was thrown in there just to create tension.
For most of the movie, you’re supposed to want the love interests to get together, and you’re pulled through the movie by the tension that they’re not. In this one, I found myself wanting them to get together so that the movie would end. Not necessarily a good thing. BUT, I found that the Kazan and Radcliffe scenes were the absolute best part. The two of them are strong actors. If someone cut out all the parts of the movie except their scenes, I wonder if it would have fared better. This movie’s a definite HEA, but I wish they would have cut out some of the slower, cool parts as well as the crazy comedy bits and just gotten down to the heart of the story with Chantry and Wallace. (PS – not sure if they get extra points given or taken away for the love lead being named Chantry).