Director: Michael Dowse
Key Actors: Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Adam Driver
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Synopsis: Due to his previous girlfriend’s knack for cheating, Wallace has developed a keen attitude of cynicism when it comes to love, romance, and relationships. But all that starts to change when he meets Chantry, a girl he falls in love with only to find she’s already in a serious relationship. They become good friends, but this film explores the question of, “Can two people be just friends if one of them is romantically interested in the other?”
Overall Rating: 4 Stars
What If is refreshing. It is an independent romantic comedy and is blissfully absent the manic pixie dream girl. I love love love LOVE this movie. This film made me laugh and giggle, it made me love love, it made me speculate about the reality of love instead of the fabricated perfections that exist in so many romantic comedies. In many ways, this is the perfect romantic comedy.
Bechdel Test: What If passed the Bechdel Test, which is unusual in a modern romantic comedy. In the film, Chantry and Wallace are best friends so naturally they spend a lot of time together. What is unusual is Wallace probably spends more time talking about the opposite sex than does Chantry. Chantry talks about her boyfriend and talks about Wallace. But she also talks about her career, food, art. Normal stuff. And she discusses it with her sister and two other friends. Oh, and her boss who is a woman. This film is an excellent example of female characters having other interests besides dating.
Treatment of Women: Like I said before, What If is refreshing. This holds true for the general treatment of women. SPOILER ALERT: Chantry loves her job as an animator. She loves it so much she turns down a promotion because it would detract from the time she actually gets to spend animating. However, the person who is given the promotion botches the job so Chantry is offered the job again. She decides to take it and moves to Taiwan… despite Wallace’s eventual declaration of his love for her following her breakup with her boyfriend. She chooses her career and it is Wallace who follows her to Taiwan, instead of the typical female-character-chooses-guy-over-once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity one finds in several rom-coms.
I’m a big fan of this movie and want to go see it again. I like how funny it is. I like how it’s not a typical rom-com. I like how when Wallace messes up big time, instead of Chantry falling for it she gets mad, and Wallace recognizes it was wrong and doesn’t try to excuse himself. I like the simple silly and sweet moments. What If is a romantic comedy done right.