Friend is a four-letter word in new Radcliffe movie
Director Dowse hits The F Word out of the park
Saturday, Aug 23, 2014 06:00 am
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Rafe Spall, Adam Driver and Mackenzie Davis
Directed by Michael Dowse
Written by Elan Mastai, adapted from the play by T.J. Dawe and Michael Rinaldi
Rated: 14A for coarse language, violence and nudity
Runtime: 98 minutes
Now playing at Cineplex Odeon North Edmonton and Scotiabank Theatres
I’m a big sucker for romantic comedies, but only when they’re done right. This is a rarity, strangely, since every director and their dog has a woeful tale of love to tell.
Enter The F Word, director Michael Dowse’s latest and greatest film to entice the masses and fill your soul with good feelings. That, and it just might end up as another in a string of his cult Canadian classics like FUBAR, Goon and It’s All Gone Pete Tong unless the movie-going public can ignore a bunch of CG ninja turtles, a group of aging action stars and some intergalactic guardians for just a moment.
This movie has heart and what’s more, it’s awesome and not just because it stars a guy named Daniel Radcliffe. You might recognize him.
He plays Wallace, a fridge magnet poet at parties and otherwise genial sort who opens the film on a rooftop re-listening to a voicemail from his former girlfriend, one that he didn’t respond to. He had it saved for more than a year. He is desperately unlucky in love.
And then he meets Chantry (played by Zoe Kazan) at a house party. They hit it off with witty banter, some obvious chemistry and not the smallest hints of interest from each of them. They would make great … friends?
Things are looking great for the two to become romantic but, oh wait! She’s already got a boyfriend, the taller and more successful Ben (Rafe Spall). She’s been with him for years and they live together. Drats!
Still, they become the best of friends, this young man and that young woman. While they gab about things and he goes clothes shopping with her – on a really platonic level, no, honestly! – their friends Allan and Nicole (Adam Driver and Mackenzie Davis) meet at the same house party and dive into the deep end of sex and love. They marry halfway through the film but not before having some uproarious moments of dialogue and make out scenes.
I think the last time I laughed this much at a rom-com was about 25 years ago, with a little film starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan.
Indeed, this is basically When Harry Met Sally updated for the new generation. Nicole even says the same line, “Can men and women really be friends?”
The answer, as we all know, is yes … especially if that friendship is incredibly brief. The longer it goes on, the more likely it is that something will happen that will find the two of them in bed wondering what just happened. This is Hollywood, not ‘Real’-wood, mind, so everything is exaggerated for dramatic and comedic purposes.
We also wonder if fate will ever intervene in such a case of extreme unrequited love.
We watch Chantry and Wallace each have their moments of yearning, their doubts about getting that elusive kiss from a ‘friend’ and their wonderings of what things would be like, how things will change. “Will romance kill our relationship or will it lift us up where we belong?” we can almost see them thinking.
This is a really marvellous and endearing comedy based on the stage play Cigars and Toothpaste by Vancouver native T.J. Dawe and co-written by Michael Rinaldi. Huge credits must go to both those playwrights for the source material and Elan Mastai for the adaptation. Rom-coms do not generally make me laugh out loud, nor do they frequently reinforce my conviction in the power of good writing. It does come across as a bit talky but the characters are so vivid and well realized because of the acting and the script that all is forgiven. We wish we knew these people in real life and that is the direct result of Mastai’s mastery of his craft.
If this film doesn’t make your heart ache (and occasionally break) then you should check your wrist for a pulse. Likewise, if you don’t laugh audibly at some great and hilarious scenes like one involving jalapeno pepper chopping and accidental defenestration.
The verdict is that Dowse has a winner on his hands, one that might have been unexpected or even impossible, especially because of the audience’s devotion to one of its stars. Radcliffe is doing his level best to distance himself and his entire acting career from a little series he did about a boy wizard and it seems to be working. I think he can act, by Jove.