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posted: 8/7/2014 5:00 AM

What happens when Wallace meets Chantry in 'What If?'

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  • Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) meets Chantry (Zoe Kazan) and it's instant flames for him in the rom-com "What If."

      Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) meets Chantry (Zoe Kazan) and it's instant flames for him in the rom-com "What If."

 
 

Film review: 'What If?'

The moment that Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) meets Chantry (Zoe Kazan) at a party, we know instantly they connect, hit it off, are soul mates and were meant to be together. They share the same sense of humor and politics. By the end of their first conversation, each is practically finishing the other's sentences. Yep, they're a couple.

Then Chantry drops a little boy atomic bomb: she has a boyfriend named Ben (Rafe Spall), a good-looking, smart, career-minded fellow she's been dating for years.

"I just want us to be friends," Chantry says. Oh, no! Not the old "I want to be friends" routine.

"What If" tells the story of Wallace's impossible love for Chantry. As directed by Michael Dowse -- who gave the improbably engaging hockey comedy "Goon" -- "What If" puts us in an armlock of total charm and warm fuzzies as Wallace pines away his heart while accepting the meager scraps of platonic attention from his dream girl.

Backed by a strong, well-chosen supporting cast (with Adam Driver as Wallace's hilariously blunt best friend and Megan Park as Chantry's sweet sister), "What If" is smart enough to know how to use genre conventions without turning to clichés, and casts a gentle glow of warmth over all its characters.

Originally, this movie was titled "The "F Word." For fun, no doubt.

"What If" opens at the River East 21 and the Century Centre in Chicago, and the Evanston Century 18. Rated PG-13 for language, partial nudity, sexual references. 102 minutes. ★ ★ ★

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