run time: 98 mins
considered: Comedy, Drama, Romance
director: Michael Dowse
starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Megan Park, Adam Driver, Mackenzie Davis, Rafe Spall, Lucius Hoyos, Jemima Rooper, Tommie-Amber Pirie, Meghan Heffern, Jonathan Cherry, Rebecca Northan, Jordan Hayes, Oona Chaplin, Adam Fergus
movie summary: There are over 5 million people living in the beautiful metropolitan city of Toronto, Ontario. It’s rare to find a great person to date let along your best friend amongst all those people. Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) has just broken up with his college sweetheart when he meets the lovely Chantry (Zoe Kazan) at his best friend’s party. The two hit it off instantly and agree to be friends after sharing a walk home. Chantry reveals that she lives with her boyfriend of five years, which breaks Wallace’s heart.
When he gets home he decides to throw away her number because she’s not single. The pair avoid each other for several weeks until a chance encounter at a movie theatre leads to a hang out at a local cafe. Their playful conversations lead to more hangs outs and fun times together. Chantry’s boyfriend Ben (Rafe Spall) invites Wallace over for dinner to set the record straight that he doesn’t want them to hook up and that Wallace is not to think of his girlfriend in that way. Wallace’s clumsiness leads to a freak accident that knocks Ben out a window when he exits the bathroom. At the hospital Wallace and Chantry meet his ex-girlfriend who is now a nurse. It is an extremely awkward moment for the three because Wallace has never once spoke of his love life. After a night in the hospital and a cast on his arm, Ben recovers from his injures in time to take a job from the United Nations in Ireland. Chantry is really sad to see Ben leave because she’s under a lot of pressure at work to take a senior level position she really doesn’t want. With Ben out of the picture, Wallace’s best friend Allan (Adam Driver) convinces him that it’s time to make a move on Chantry before he’s stuck in the friend’s zone forever.
Since the very first night Wallace met Chantry he has been in love with her, they share a connection that neither have really ever experienced before. He has fought his emotions the whole time he’s been her friend, he doesn’t want to tell her the truth because it means he could lose her. She’s never really expressed a romantic interest in him because she’s with Ben even though she can be flirty sometimes and is extremely jealous that her sister Dalia (Megan Park) wants to sleep with him. Chantry gets lonely as the days and weeks turn into months and Ben is not always available to talk on the phone. Allan decides to arrange a small gathering with his wife Nicole (Mackenzie Davis), Wallace, and Chantry at the beach. When Allan doesn’t get the romantic spark out of Wallace and Chantry he was hoping for, Nicole offers to go skinny dipping. When everyone is in the water, Allan and Nicole steal their clothes leaving the best friends naked on the beach with nothing but a sleeping bag. Their ill-fated attempt to create romance for their friends ends up in a huge argument and the fall out of Wallace and Chantry’s friendship.
The very next morning when Allan and Nicole return to pick them up, Wallace and Chantry are not talking to each other and go their separate ways when they get dropped off. Wallace decides it’s time to move on from Chantry and start his life all over again by enrolling into medical school. Chantry decides to use her open airplane ticket to go to Ireland to see Ben. She needs to talk to him about a promotion in Taiwan. She is shocked when she catches Ben spending too much time with his female co-workers even though when she’s out on the town she’s wondering what Wallace is up to. On the other side of the globe Wallace bumps into Dalia who tells him that Chantry is with Ben and that he should leave her alone now. He can’t stand being apart from his best friend, who he loves, so he flies to Ireland to tell her the truth only to find she’s headed back to Toronto.
The two meet at their favourite cafe where Wallace tells her everything. She reacts in a way that he wasn’t expecting and the two officially end their friendship when a tearful Chantry tells Wallace she’s moving to Taiwan.
my thoughts: Everyone expects a happy ending in Hollywood these days and sometimes that ending just doesn’t fit the story. The F Word/What If fits this description. I thought this was a funny movie, it had me laughing through out until the ending, which was so unrealistic I think I’m still pissed at it as I type this. This kind of story never ends well for the best friends, I should know I’ve been through it. There is a girl who lives in another province who is one of my best friends. I liked her a lot and wanted to be with her even though she had a boyfriend. Instead of playing a Wallace and holding back my feelings I straight up told her and was pushed so far into the friends zone that there was no chance of getting out. Over the last six years we have both grown to like each other romantically but have since moved on and rarely talk today. It’s not really fair to judge this movie based on my personal experiences even though they are completely opposites stories. I’m just upset with this movie because it went from being an honest and real look at male and female friendships only to turn into something extremely unrealistic at the end.
I hate to stereotype people but honestly it’s really hard to watch Daniel Radcliffe in any other role other than Harry Potter. I know he’s trying really hard to show his versatility but I’m just waiting for him or a fellow actor/actress to drop a Harry joke or ask him if he has any scars. In a comedy as funny as The F Word was, it would have been hilarious and fit in with his monotone character. I know from articles I’ve read that Daniel has tried his best to do more adult roles, roles filled with emotion and drama but is still looking for a new career defining role. I hated his first post Potter film, The Women in Black, and still wait for him to land himself a leading role that allows him to change his career for the best.
I can relate to the Wallace character on many different levels and thought Daniel was really funny as a down on his luck kind of guy. He’s got many sarcastic one liners and comebacks that you want him to end up happy some day. He is quiet and reserved and willing to put other people’s feelings before his own which makes him a great friend. After so many heart breaks it only makes sense that he would be so cut off from love and romance but when he meet the one, he needs to just be up front about it. That struggle to share his feelings is his biggest hurdle throughout the whole film. Not every guy can be friends with a girl without struggling on some level or another. Daniel handles it the best way he knows how, whether it’s to late or not is a whole different story.
Zoe Kazan was a great leading lady in another unique story about love. Most of you will remember her in Ruby Sparks, where she was written to life by Paul Dano’s character. She has had minor roles in other movies but is really making a name for herself in non-blockbuster romance roles. She has the beauty and skills to pull off a variety of different kind of girlfriends. One minute she’s crying and emotional before turning the tears off and turning into a really upset person. Zoe has a bright future ahead of herself thanks to the experiences she keeps racking up.
my final thoughts: The F Word/What If is a charming movie that would be best enjoyed with a significant other on a small screen instead of an expensive night out at the theatres. The story will please both guys and girls because it presents a realistic tale of the male and female friendship and the problems that can arise out of them. If you don’t like the story or the concept just watch the movies for the great cast, you won’t be disappointed.
my star rating: 5 out 10
rottentomatoes.com: 69% out 100%
rogerebert.com: 2.5 out 4