Then, little by little, filmmakers began to chip away at the formula, making rom coms with a twist. There was a “Warm Bodies,” a zombie rom com and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s one-two punch “500 Days of Summer” and “Don Jon,” among others. Now there’s “The F Word,” a fresh and funny take on romance and the nature of love.
Called “What If” in the United States where the “F Word” title was seen as too salacious, (in the movie the “F” stands for friend), it’s the story of Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe), a loser in love who meets Chandry (Zoe Kazan), the girl of his dreams, at a party. She’s charming, pretty, funny and has a live-in boyfriend. Like Harry and Sally before them, they must discover if men and women can just be friends.
Enchanting, whimsical and sweet are words I could use to describe “The F Word,” and the film earns each and every one, but it is also more than that.
Director Michael Dowse doesn’t allow the tone to get sugary and slip into saccharine mode. He’s aided by a smart and funny script by Elan Mastai, but it’s Radcliffe and Kazan that draw us in. The pair has chemistry to burn and their conversations have a ring of truth that doesn’t feel contrived or rom commy.
They’re supported by an able cast, including Megan Park in a star-making turn as Chantry’s promiscuous sister and “Girl’s” alum Adam Driver as Wallace’s best friend Allan.
By Richard Crouse & Mark Breslin – Metro Reel Guys
SYNOPSIS: Called What If in the United States where the F Word title was seen as too salacious, (in the movie the “F” stands for friend), this is the story of Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe), a loser in love who meets Chandry (Zoe Kazan), the girl of his dreams, at a party. She’s charming, pretty, funny and has a live-in boyfriend. Like Harry and Sally before them, they must discover if men and women can just be friends.
Richard: 4 Stars
Mark: 4 Stars
Richard: Mark, enchanting, whimsical and sweet are words I could use to describe The F Word, and the film earns each and every one, but it is also more than that. Director Michael Dowse doesn’t allow the tone to get sugary and slip into saccharine mode. He’s aided by a smart and funny script by Elan Mastai, but it’s Radcliffe and Kazan that drew me in. The pair has chemistry to burn and their conversations have a ring of truth that don’t feel contrived or rom commy.
Mark: Richard. This is an incredibly sweet-hearted movie that will do nothing to alleviate the problems in the Middle East. Nevertheless the movie is about 25% more realistic than most rom-coms and I was so grateful for that. But I’ve never seen a movie where the characters were so polite to one another; no wonder they set it in Toronto.
MB: I was also grateful for the indie score and the way the characters looked a little mussed, with some visible pores and an occasional zit, even if they all sported impossibly cute and expensive eyewear. Toronto does look sexy—although not dangerously sexy—but for a city that trumpets its multiculturalism, the cast and tone were lily-white. The lead was actually British! Speaking of the lead, I liked Radcliffe in the role. You, Richard
RC: I did. I thought he and Kazan made a cute couple. There’s more to Radcliffe than wizardry and battling “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.” Breaking free of Harry Potter must have seemed daunting for the young actor, but he proven in movies like this and Kill Your Darlings and The Woman in Black that he is versatile and won’t be typecast. I’m curious to see what he does next.
MB: I heard he was doing Vladimir in Waiting for Godot on Broadway, dressed as Osama Bin Laden. Personally, I think he’s too short for the role.
There are things about Daniel Radcliffe that you probably already know.
Thanks to the Harry Potter series he’s one of the most recognizable actors on earth. He is 5’5” tall, a published poet and is the youngest person, other than royalty, to be honoured with a portrait in the National Portrait Gallery.
Here’s what you don’t know. He’s also remarkably reliable. In 10 years of shooting the Potter pictures, he only missed two days — and he’s polite.
For this interview he turned up early (when was the last time an international superstar was on time?) and greets your reporter with a hearty, “What a lovely surprise.”
He offers to help with my crossword — “I’m one of those people in life who probably really annoys serious crossword doers. I’m one of those people who comes up behind and goes, ‘That one you’re about to get? I’ve got it’” — and apologizes when he almost lets a curse slip.
He is not your typical superstar and his new romance, The F Word, is not a typical rom-com.
The 25-year-old actor says the story of a young man hopelessly in love with his best friend (Zoe Kazan) “has things a lot of films want, that combination of being sarcastic and quick and funny without being negative or cynical.”
“Zoe says a great thing,” he says of co-star Kazan.
“She talks about how in most romantic comedies the people meet and then there’s a getting-to-know-you montage, then they do whatever they’re going to do for the rest of the film. Our movie is basically that montage expanded to feature length, and that is what is so joyous about it. Those moments when you are getting to know someone and flirting with them, making them laugh, are so intimate and so exciting and so charged that as an audience it is wonderful to be allowed in to watch that and live through it again.”
Playing the lovesick romantic lead is something different for Radcliffe, who says he wants “to try my hand at as many things as possible.”
Since the final Potter film in 2011, he has appeared in everything from the beatnik drama Kill Your Darlings to the fantasy film Horns and will soon be seen as Igor in a new version of Frankenstein.
“Having played one character for a very long time,” he says, “that builds up in you a desire to play a number of different characters and do as much different work as you can. I want to show as many different sides of my ability as I can. Also I like that you can’t predict what my next thing is going to be.”
“My girlfriend gets pissed,” says Seann William Scott, “because I don’t do anything except watch movies.”
His on-screen education becomes clear as he explains how he tackled the character of Doug Glatt, the impossibly sweet, but violent hockey enforcer in Goon.
“He’s not Peter Sellers in Being There,” he says. “I wanted to make sure he came across as a real guy,” says Scott. “Not Forest Gump on skates.”
Director Mike Dowse chimes in with his own film comparisons.
“Doug reminded me of Lenny from Mice and Men or Rocky Balboa or even Chauncey Gardner. A great simpleton character.”
It’s a risky role. Play him too broadly and he’ll be a caricature, underplay him and the audience won’t care about him.
“It’s a performance thing,” says Dowse. “What we did was develop a ‘Doug Filter’ that Seann would put on as an actor. We talked about how Doug isn’t slow, he’s careful. He chooses his words. He tries to be polite. Once Seann got the filter, you could throw anything through it. It’s a really difficult thing to do; play a simpleton smartly.”
Throwing ideas through the filter is one thing, but Doug also throws punches. Lots of them.
“As violent as it is, and as wild as the fights are, you still love my character,” says Scott, “because he doesn’t fight just to fight. He has a moral code. Doug is such a good, sweet guy, you can get away with that because there is an interesting dichotomy between the guy who’s out on the ice bleeding for his team and the man he is off ice.”
“We weren’t trying to glorify the violence at all,” says Dowse. “We’re just trying to show the impact of being in this guy’s skates and having the audience experience that.”
“I also loved how polite these guys are,” Scott says of the hockey enforcers he met while researching the part. “They’re like, ‘Good fight,’ after they’ve just beaten someone on the ice.”
One aspect of the role that eluded Scott was the skating.
“If there are any shots of me skating fairly well that would be my double,” he laughs. “Anytime I’m falling down, that was me. The double had to actually dumb down his skating to match mine.”