What If review round up
What If has opened in NY and LA in a limited run, and the reviews are in. For the most part, they are very complementary about the film, and even those reviewers who don’t particularly care for it still praise Dan’s performance. The Guardian:
The reason for this – above all else – is the casting. Radcliffe and Kazan are adorable and vulnerable and sincere in equal measure, but this really is Radcliffe’s movie. Despite his insecurity (and his reliance on pep talks from his dopey pal Allan), he is an admirable everyman. Being in your 20s is tough stuff, and Radcliffe feels the weight of this complexity without coming off like a whiner. You can’t write “be sympathetic” in a screen direction – that has to come naturally to an actor, and Radcliffe has this in spades.
Harry Potter fans may freak to hear Radcliffe talk about sex and dick shrinkage, but it’s good to see this gifted actor relax into a contemporary role with no help from FX wizards. What If doesn’t break new ground. But it has charm to spare, and Radcliffe and Kazan are irresistible. No ifs about it.
The leads are, fortunately, just as good as the bright and shining supporting players. Radcliffe is goofy and gregarious and slyly self-mocking here, capturing Wallace as a good man and an awful dancer. [...] Radcliffe takes to the timing, tone and self-deprecation required here like a duck to water; hopefully, other directors will recognize.
I could have spent hours watching Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan spar back and forth. They have the kind of chemistry that you rarely get in romantic comedies, or in comedies in general. They work tremendously well as friends, so part of you doesn’t particularly want Wallace to step over that line. Radcliffe gives the best performance of his career so far in my eyes, essaying a sympathetic yet deeply realistic and even flawed character.
What If’s biggest draw is, let’s be honest, Daniel Radcliffe (just look at that face. What an adorable goober). I admittedly might not have been down for a rom-com if it didn’t star the boy who formerly lived, so let me say straight out of the gate that Radcliffe equips himself very well outside of non-period dramas and fantasy: Radcliffe’s Wallace, a med-school dropout cynical about love, is funny, complicated, grounded even in some of the movie’s more absurd scenes, and bodes very well for some of Radcliffe’s bigger upcoming projects (cough cough Horns).
It might have all been a little too twee, a little too smug, or way too dark, but this talented cast carefully walks a very fine line. Thanks to them, the film remains romantic and light on its feet even as it depicts genuine emotional pain. The tense interplay of eagerness and nervousness on Radcliffe’s face is hilarious, heartbreaking, and all too real. As evidenced by both this and Kill Your Darlings, he’s become expert at conveying little moments of ordinary human anxiety. (Once upon a time, Woody Allen would have worked wonders with him.) Meanwhile, Driver is his usual adorably confident and weird self, adding just the right hint of absurdism to the film: Watch the death stare he gives a maid of honor who rambles through a way-too-TMI speech at a character’s wedding late in the film.
You can find more reviews at the links below:
What If opens in UK cinemas 20th August, and in North American cinemas 22nd August.