Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival: The F Word

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“It is easy to be cynical” proclaims Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) during his best man speech at his friend Allen’s (Adam Driver) impromptu wedding ceremony. Though he is referring to the ways of love, he might as well be talking about the audience as well. Considering the sheer number of lifeless romantic comedies that hit theatres each year, it is easy to be cynical going into a film like The F Word. The film touches on many of the beats you would expect from the genre, yet somehow manages to bring moments of truth to scenes that would otherwise feel false in a lesser film.

It is easy to identify with the film because we have all been in a situation like this at some point in our lives. That delicate dance where we fall for someone who, by all accounts, we connect with perfectly and the only thing that seems to hinder taking the relationship to the next level is that dreaded “F Word”…friend. With that one word we establish parameters that carry added weight. A violation of those boundaries comes with huge ramifications.

Knowing where the line begins and ends is something that the characters in The F Word struggle with. Wallace is a copywriter who has spent the past year wallowing in the murkiness that came with his last break-up. At a party one night he meets Chantry (Zoe Kazan), an animator who happens to be the cousin of his old roommate Allan. The pair hit it off instantly and it looks like Wallace’s romantic life might finally be on the upswing. Of course this all changes when Chantry mentions that she is living with her boyfriend, Ben (Rafe Spall), of five years.

Considering how much they have in common, Wallace and Chantry embark on a friendship convinced that it will be strictly platonic. After all why can’t a single guy and an attached gal hangout and simply enjoy life? Why must issues of love and sex come into play? Though Wallace and Chantry seem content with their arrangement, everyone one around them, and the audience for that matter, questions if the pair are simply lying to themselves.

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The F Word is one of those rare romantic gems that has universal appeal. It unabashedly wears its heart on its sleeve, which is part of its charm. Amidst the “will they won’t they” question that permeates the film, is an honest look at the dynamics between men and women. Though Allan may be a bit of a womanizer, his words of wisdom, as juvenile as they may seem, offer a lot of truth. As Allan points out it is impossible to get in the romantic game if one pines from the sidelines. The longer that Wallace and Chantry fool themselves into thinking that they can be “just friends”, the further they complicate the inevitable decision we all know they will have to make.

Director Michael Dowse crafts a romantic comedy that will not only satisfy both genders, but also please those who have become jaded towards romantic comedies. Providing a lush romanticized view of Toronto unlike any other, and incorporating the right amount of whimsical humour, it is hard not to be swayed by the film’s many charms. The F Word may not be a deep film, but its honesty and heart allow it to soar. The performances by Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan are perfect. They not only hit the right comedic notes, but audiences can relate to their characters. We fall in love with them instantly.

The F Word may hit on several common tropes of the genre, yet it still manages to feel fresh and full of life. While it is easy to be cynical about love, and romantic comedies in general, it is hard not to fall for the delightful charm of The F Word.