The F Word

Directed by Michael Dowse

BY Scott A. GrayPublished Sep 17, 2013

Having himself quite the year, Daniel Radcliffe confidently headlines this far funnier than it has any right to be rom-com from the director of similarly enjoyable beyond expectation comedies Goon and Fubar.

Based on the play by T.J. Dawe, The F Word injects some life into that well-worn love story trope: platonic friendship as an obstacle to romance. Flailing into the subject's witticisms first, the energetic ensemble cast aims to charm and disarm with nimble tongues and comic readings of some of the familiar moral neuroses that inhibit instinctual mating urges.

Wallace (Radcliffe), a med school dropout, has had his heart urinated on one too many times; it's in this embittered state that he meets quirky animator Chantry, at a party hosted by her womanizing party animal cousin (Adam Driver). Sharing a fascination with the contents of Elvis's bowels and what he ate to achieve such a rancid, impacted colon upon his grand exit from the stage of life, the two have an instant connection.

With an obvious spark established, Chantry unleashes the libido-crushing bomb that she's in a committed relationship. Smitten and chivalrous, Wallace pledges his friendship and they become adorable, inseparable friends, with the only benefits being the kind of understanding and camaraderie they can't find anywhere else.

Hewing closer to a realistic sampling of life than most romance fantasies, Chantry's boyfriend, Ben (Rafe Spall), isn't a dick, secret or otherwise. He's a great guy: smart, funny, handsome, employed by the UN and understandably wary of the ostensibly gelded rooster hanging around his bird. Without a villain, Wallace and Chantry's painfully denied, excruciatingly intense attraction has no easy answer. That lack of stereotypical copout conventions — the rendering of a complex issue black and white via the use of a scapegoat — is what makes The F Word stand out beyond its steady stream of irreverent zingers and sassy, endearing performances.

As Chantry admits in one of the film's surprisingly poignant moments, "It's hard to take love seriously." Michael Dowse's latest unlikely delight doesn't, but as is typical of his work, it has plenty of heart.

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