The F Word

By Di Golding

Mailed on August 22, 2014

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Dear Sam Morris
Daniel Radcliffe's Bodyguard

Dear Sam,

I can't imagine a girl has many opportunities for a 'meet cute' scenario with your boss. As the lead in the multi-billion dollar box-office Harry Potter franchise, Daniel Radcliffe's popularity is stratospheric and his fans are legion. But you're always right there, ready to ward off any untoward advances from over-eager groupies. If a lucky lady gets the go-ahead for face-time with D-Rad, no doubt she would have to contend with your constant hovering. In this instance, your job description is 'professional third wheel.' It's a designation most people wouldn't seek out, but it's one you've probably gotten used to. Perhaps, then, your boss looked to you for advice on how to play his lovelorn character, Wallace, in The F-Word.

But it's more likely he's seen enough romantic comedies to know exactly how The F-Word would unfold.

Med-school dropout, Wallace, is still stinging from being cheated on when he meets his best friend's cousin, Chantry. The two hit it off while arranging fridge magnet poetry at a house party. The hitch is that Chantry is living with Ben, who has been plucked from the Perfect Movie Boyfriend sampler: he's handsome, committed, and has an impossibly successful job with the UN. Charmingly mopey Wallace is resigned to the dreaded "friend" status(ie, the F-word) with Chantry.

I'm sure by now, you've seen and heard every imaginable ploy from people trying to get close to Daniel. But maybe once and awhile, despite your world-weariness, someone manages to do something that stands out. That's how I felt watching Wallace and Chantry fumble towards the inevitable. Though the obvious nod to rom-com classic_ When Harry Met Sally_ is unavoidable, The F-Word manages to update the "can men and women ever just be friends?" trope for a more pop-culturally and sexually astute generation. Wallace and Chantry's conversations - like their musings on the weight of fecal matter found in dead celebrities - are darkly funny and genuine. The F-Word unapologetically embraces physical comedy, but uses it to enhance the tart dialogue instead of relying on it to induce cheap laughs. The supporting cast provides many of the film's funniest moments; Wallace's odd-ball BFF, played by Adam Driver, and his kooky girlfriend Nicole are adorably kinky, Wallace's sister Ellie is a flaky single mom with a habit of literally biting off more than she can chew, and Chantry's sister Dalia's sexual attraction to Wallace is awkwardly shameless. The 'com' is fresh, even if the 'rom' feels a little stale.

Working so intimately with Daniel must mean the two of you have become close friends, but at the end of the day you're still his employee. Power imbalance is a tricky thing to navigate, and many male-centric rom-coms - call them dick flicks - like Garden State and _500 Days of Summer, _reduce the female object of affection to a caricature. Although Wallace is the protagonist, Chantry's narrative is given equal weight, which isn't surprising since that role is played by Zoe Kazan, an actor and screenwriter who singlehandedly put the manic pixie dream girl out of her misery. Even Ben isn't given the one-dimensional undeserving boyfriend treatment that lesser rom-coms would rely on for plot advancement. Director Michael Dowse continues his tradition of bringing raunchy yet relatable characters to the big screen without reducing them to cartoons. I just wish he hadn't steered them into Twee-ville for so many pit stops.

Daniel has a very hectic schedule, hopping between stage and screen, from London to L.A. which must make your life exciting by extension. When Daniel hangs around after a show to sign autographs and take photos with fans, I'm sure it can get monotonous, But just because it's a situation you've seen played out countless times doesn't mean you can't get caught up in the excitement and enjoy yourself.

No one ever said predictable couldn't be fun.



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