Franchises aimed at the teen market are very much in vogue at the moment. What started with Harry Potter has gone through Twilight, Hunger Games and all manner of poorer efforts. It’s also led to a legion of young actors coming out of these franchises with the whole world having an opinion of them. Some have failed spectacularly, Taylor Lautner comes to mind, as so far he seems to populate bad action movies and Grown Ups 2. While the likes of Robert Pattinson have shown a new side to themselves, with interesting roles like Cosmopolis, the upcoming Map to the Stars and his most recent release The Rover. Another teen idol who has broken out of the mold is Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe.
Ever since Harry Potter, Radcliffe has shown himself to be more than just a teen wizard, seemingly selecting roles that are deliberately set out to be new and different from what has come before. Whether it was his first post-Potter movie, the resurrection of Hammer horror in The Woman in Black, a suitably freaky return to the screen, but done in a way that couldn’t be further from the young adult baiting audience through which he made his name. Or the even further left-field role of Alan Ginsberg in Kill Your Darlings, a self-indulgent but interesting look at the Beat scene. All of this brings us to today, when he returns to possibly his most mainstream role since Potter, with romantic comedy What If or as it has also been known, The F Word.
What If is nothing new or exciting. It is a simple story, told with characters who are easy to get along with. Radcliffe plays Wallace, a medical school drop out who has spent the last year of his life mourning a lost relationship, which he ended after finding his ex cheating on him. When he finally enters the real world he has the joy of meeting Chantry (Zoe Kazan) and hitting it off almost instantly. The problem? She has a boyfriend.
This kind of will they, won’t they romcom is hardly a new idea. We have seen it before and we will see it again. Where this flim is interesting, is it is yet again a great example of just how good Radcliffe can be. As Wallace, he brings a likability to the role that in many others might be needy and annoying. He has a natural charisma that shines out on screen and even if the movie is unlikely to change your world, it is hard not to be caught up in the charm that he and Kazan bring to their roles. Radcliffe has matured from a young actor who was thrust into one of the biggest roles of our generation, into a man who is genuinely damn good at his craft and it is becoming a bit of a joy to see. With his next film being the equally out there Horns, it feels like Radcliffe is going to continue this interesting run and the longer it goes on the better in my eyes.