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Picture - Jemima Rooper - Photo's from... London United Kingdom, Monday 13th October 2014

Jemima Rooper - Photo's from the screening of 'X + Y'at the British Film Institute's London Film Festival at Odeon West End - London, United Kingdom - Monday 13th October 2014

What If Review

With his first romantic-comedy, Daniel Radcliffe proves adept at delivering snappy dialogue and generating strong chemistry with his costars, so it's frustrating that the film is never remotely believable. Director Michael Dowse and writer Elan Mastai find some cleverly original angles on the genre, but never seem sure whether this is silly slapstick or darker black comedy. They also indulge in several appallingly corny plot points that would only happen like this if they were written by a screenwriter.

Radcliffe plays Wallace, a British guy living in Toronto. After a bad break-up he has dropped out of med school and let his life drift aimlessly, but now his best pal Allan (Adam Driver) is tired of his moping around. So he introduces Wallace to his cousin Chantry (Zoe Kazan), and the two hit it off. The problem is that Chantry has a lovely boyfriend, Ben (Rafe Spall), so just wants to be friends. Wallace is smitten but pretends that this is fine. And this causes a serious problem as they get to know each other over the next few weeks. Meanwhile, Allan has his own fast-moving relationship with Nicole (Mackenzie Davis), and he urges Wallace to make a move when Ben is transferred to Dublin for six months. The question is whether Chantry feels the same way about him.

Dowse has always been good at finding the sharper edges of humour in any scene (see Fubar or Goon), but this film has a squishy sentimental centre that threatens to undo it at every turn. There are also several goofy moments that strain credibility, such as when Wallace and Chantry are forced to share a sleeping bag naked. Meanwhile, the characters are so perky that they're somewhat exhausting. The actors seem to be trying desperately to make us like them in every scene, and sometimes this works simply because they are genuinely engaging. But the best moments are when Radcliffe hesitates awkwardly or explores the darker side of his longing, or when Kazan reveals the doubt behind her super-cute eyes.

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Picture - Daniel Radcliffe and Jemima Rooper... London United Kingdom, Tuesday 12th August 2014

Daniel Radcliffe and Jemima Rooper - UK film premiere held at the Odeon West End - Arrivals - London, United Kingdom - Tuesday 12th August 2014 - Arrivals - London, United Kingdom - Tuesday 12th August 2014

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