It’s easy to joke about Daniel Radcliffe (not in a mean way, more like teasing a little brother). But we’ll have to stop now, because Harry Potter is all grown-up and he can act. He’s lovely in this hipster-ish romcom, playing a medical school dropout who falls in love with a girl (Zoe Kazan) at a house party in Toronto. She leaves it too late, waiting till he’s walking her home, to tell him her relationship status: ‘My boyfriend will be wondering what happened to me.’ As her friend says later, she’s ‘mind-cheating’. The rest of the film is a will-they-won’t-they (what do you think?) update of ‘When Harry Met Sally’. They go on friend-dates, play ping-pong and trade flirty banter.
For Radcliffe, this is your classic Hugh Grant role – posh, bumbling Brit in a suit jacket that looks like the wind blew it on. But for a kid who grew up in public and is worth an estimated £60 million, he does a convincing job of playing a normal guy. There’s a gorgeous scene in a diner where it hits him that he’s losing his girl. As his face collapses, you can see his heart breaking. By the close, you’re willing him to get his happy ending.
The trouble with ‘What if’ is too many set-ups we’ve seen before: boy reveals his true feeling in a best man’s speech; boy catches a glimpse of his true love in a changing room. And the less said about our two leads’ pretentious names – Wallace and Chantry – the better. Not even JK Rowling could have dreamt up those for a pair of precocious wizards.