FLIX: 'What If' men and women could be friends

By Joe Friar
Aug. 20, 2014 at 1:06 p.m.

   Contributed Photo for The Victoria Advocate

Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan are casting spells on each other, but you won't find any wands in this new romantic comedy from director Michael Dowse, who co-wrote the recent charming film "The Grand Seduction," with Brendan Gleeson and Taylor Kitsch.

Radcliffe plays Wallace, a newly single Brit living in Toronto who quit medical school after he caught his ex-girlfriend cheating on him with another classmate.

She went on to become a doctor, and Wallace got stuck in a boring job writing technical manuals.

One night at a party while rearranging word magnets on a refrigerator, Wallace meets Chantry (Kazan), who works as an animator.

And after spending some time engaging in witty banter, they both find themselves simultaneously leaving the soiree.

There definitely is some chemistry between the two, so Chantry agrees to let Wallace walk her home.

When they arrive at her place, she drops the "I have a boyfriend" bomb but suggests she and Wallace become friends, almost like a business arrangement.

Soon, the two are calling each other and hanging out, and even though Chantry is devoted to her boyfriend, Ben (Rafe Spall), she spends a lot of time with Wallace.

This brings up the question: Can a man and a woman just be friends?

Wallace's best friend, Allan (the always entertaining and deadpan Adam Driver), doesn't think so, and even though he doesn't see Chantry leaving Ben, he fully supports his buddy Wallace.

The clever dialogue and good cast make for a winning combination.

Radcliffe continues to break out of that "Harry Potter" mold and prove he can be the leading man.

And Kazan is charming with her pixie-like quality and those big, beautiful eyes.

Together, the two are capable of igniting sparks.

Dowse is a good filmmaker - just check out some of his underrated films like "Goon" and "It's All Gone Pete Tong."

He does a great job of pacing this film; you almost feel compelled to scream out the inevitable.

"Rom-coms" are not my favorite genre, but I do enjoy a good "When Harry Met Sally" type of film.

"What If" is a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours at the theater.

Rating: Three stars

Joe Friar is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, Houston Film Critics Society and juror at the Victoria Independent Film Festival. He reviews films every Friday on Hit Radio 104.7 KVIC. Contact Joe at jfriar95@gmail.com.



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