EMINE – ‘What If’ opens way for self-introspection

‘What If’ opens way for self-introspectionDirector Michael Dowse’s “What If” reminds one of the intelligent romantic comedies of the 1950s where we would watch two articulate people continuously bantering throughout a film in the form of a witty flirtation. This is a very, very “talkie” film, but it isn’t such a surprise since Elan Mastai’s screenplay is after all adapted from a play titled “Toothpaste and Cigars,” penned by writers TJ Dawe and Michael Rinaldi.

Much like its predecessors, this independently produced North American romantic comedy (set in Toronto with a mixed cast of Canadians, Americans and Brits) is told to the audience through the point of view of its lead male character, a lonely and disheveled man who always defeats his existential crisis and recovers from his solitude after meeting the girl of his dreams. In this case, we’ve got our very own Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliff, up for the part — mind you, he’s doing a stellar job of taking various roles and shaking off the Hogwarts schoolboy act.

Wallace (Radcliffe) has sentenced himself to a one-year emotional exile. He’s still heartbroken over the fact that his ex-girlfriend had cheated on him with their anatomy professor He has dropped out of med school and lives with his single mother, older sister and her son.

Despite the melancholy, this is a happy and loving little household. One night at his best friend Allan’s (the multi-talented Adam Driver from the HBO show “Girls”) house party, Wallace meets the lovely Chantry (Zoe Kazan, the granddaughter of Elia), they chat merrily, engaging in overly articulate, rapid and witty dialogue that you can only encounter in the movies.

Wallace is charmed by this soft-spoken girl, who is an animator He walks her home, they talk a bit more and right when she’s about to enter her apartment she blurts out, “My boyfriend is waiting for me.” Oh well, Wallace thinks, at least it was nice getting to know her a little.

Of course they have another cute meeting several days later and once again the conversation is invigorating. These two people like each other but it’s obvious that Chantry is in a happy relationship.

Oh well, Wallace thinks again, at least we can be friends. And indeed, these two annoyingly sweet and nice two people become the best of friends and start hanging out together frequently.

But really is it that simple or, as we like to declare in our Facebook statuses, is it complicated? Indeed things get very complicated for Wallace can’t help himself from falling in love with the girl even though he sticks to the good friend act, yet at the bottom of his heart he doesn’t want to lose her friendship. This is a dire situation that many have faced in their lives but nevertheless the filmmakers manage to bring a fresh point of view to the story by not falling into the trap of black and white genre conventions.

In this film, every relationship is dynamic and every piece of dialogue and emotion is transient and cannot be pigeonholed into the morally reductionist perspective of absolute right and wrong. Chantry and Wallace are very human characters and like most complex human beings, they experience a multitude of emotions and dilemmas at once, always trying to be well-intentioned but not bereft of mistakes or misinterpretations.

At its strongest, “What If” is a wonderful observation on gender dynamics and how men and women can react differently to romantic tendencies or possibilities and watching Wallace and Chantry interact is enticing in itself and the viewer does not need any plot twists to anticipate what will happen next. At its heart, this film is not about satisfying a formal narrative structure but about the complexity of human behavior Unfortunately though, the film begins losing its strength towards the end of the second act as it succumbs to the usual genre misgivings of bringing together the couple who are “meant to be.

” Once the plot twists start rolling, we somehow feel less sympathetic towards our two characters and wish they could have sustained their previous three-dimensional existence. A romantic comedy is surely supposed to end well but “What If” deserves a deeper and more meaningful end than just contriving coincidences and situations that bring about the happily-ever-after element.

In fact, you might even find yourself wishing that these two souls had just drifted apart for a more stirring conclusion. But what can you do? Even if you’re doing something fresh and bending genre rules once in a while, there’s still that genera that you have to uphold.

Despite all its flaws, “What If” presents an entertaining and bright spectacle for those looking for alternative love stories that dare to illustrate genuine dispositions and feelings feelings that are confused, sometimes deceiving and sometimes invigorating. The one true thing is that this film succeeds in opening the way for viewers’ own self-introspection.

Seriously, forget the happy ending it’s all about something else.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman

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