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TIFF '13 Review: The F Word
Toronto-set romcom starring Daniel Radcliffe is charming but conventional

If Scott Pilgrim Versus the World proved anything, it’s that a slick romantic comedy set in Toronto will garner a lot of interest… among people in Toronto. The F Word seems destined for a similar response. It has at least one Hollywood star, Daniel Radcliffe, along with the not-quite-Hollywood-stars Zoe Kazan and Adam Driver (better known as Adam from Girls). It makes Toronto look bright and romantic, full of green parks, beaches, and quirky retro movie theatres (aka The Royal on College). And it’s directed by Michael Dowse, whose Goon hit a sweet spot for Canadian audiences, embracing Canadian hockey culture without being too impressed by its own hoserness.

Underneath Goon‘s gruff exterior is a conventional underdog story. The F Word follows a similar formula, grafting Dowse’s vulgar comedic sensibility on a formulaic romantic comedy. Dowse gives us a sweet-but-disgusting meet cute between Wallace (Radcliffe), a med school dropout with trust issues, and Chantry (Kazan), an animator with an actual job and a long term boyfriend. The F word of the title, in case you were wondering, refers to “friend,” which is what Wallace becomes, even though both parties have a romantic stake in the other, found through not-romantic walks in High Park and house parties in the West End.

Dowse’s comedic sensibility, the best thing going for this film, hits a wall after Wallace and Chantry get to know each other. Even Adam Driver, playing Wallace’s straight-talking best friend, feels like a tame (well, tame-r) version of his character from Girls. Still, Radcliffe and Kazan are a likeable non-couple. There’s enough creativity to keep it moving, including a long awaited confirmation that eating nachos after sex can be the greatest moment of someone’s life.

The F Word premiered at the festival last Saturday, but have no fear, it will be released in Toronto one day.

____ 

Alan Jones writes about film for Toronto Standard. You can follow him on Twitter at @alanjonesxxxv.

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