What If is the story of medical school dropout Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe), who’s been repeatedly burned by bad relationships. So while everyone around him, including his roommate Allan (Adam Driver) seems to be finding the perfect partner (Mackenzie Davis), Wallace decides to put his love life on hold. It is then that he meets Chantry (Zoe Kazan) an animator who lives with her longtime boyfriend Ben (Rafe Spall). Wallace and Chantry form an instant connection, striking up a close friendship. Still, there is no denying the chemistry between them, leading the pair to wonder, what if the love of your life is actually your best friend?
The romantic comedy genre as a whole is largely dead, which is good. Like other genres before it, it’s a hard genre to tackle with anything different. In order to work, films that are in some form a part of the genre have to find something special to make it work.
With a razor-sharp repartee between its two leads, What If is able to largely subvert the genre and stays clear of many romantic comedy tropes. While it’s clear that Wallace and Chantry are good together, and that there’s romantic interest on both of their parts, they also have a connection that could work just as well platonically. It’s preferable to the standard, where opposites of some form attract.
Where the film lost me is the very end, which feels tacked on to tying up some loose threads that don’t require the tying. If anything, it actually pushes the film far closer to its genre brethren than anything that precedes it. Cut the ending off, and the film as a whole improves.