Critic’s Notebook: TIFF 2013: Daniel Radcliffe and the quirk factor in ‘The F Word’

Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan star as best friends in "The F Word."
(‘The F Word’)
Los Angeles Times Film Critic

TORONTO — I really like the way Daniel Radcliffe is navigating his post-Harry Potter world, moving between stage and screen, throwing himself into all manner of projects. He’s got several films at the Toronto International Film Festival, but the one I caught up with last night, “The F Word,” was a real kick.

The “F,” by the way, stands for “friends,” and the friend, the central one, is portrayed by Zoe Kazan, whose quirky wonderfulness in just about everything is turning her into one of my favorite people to watch on screen. She is effortless in simply being.

The movie is directed by Michael Dowse, a cheeky Canadian who brings a lot of bite to his comedies, and isn’t shy with saucy language. “The F Word” is the best, and sweetest, of the filmmaker’s work yet. Though I admit I haven’t made it to “Fubar: Balls to the Wall,” but somehow I don’t think that would be the one to tip the balance.

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Set in Toronto, which really is a beautiful backdrop with its architectural mix of old and new used to excellent effect here, the movie follows a couple who meet at a party and the friendship that follows. Though there is a boyfriend (Rafe Spall), the friendship question is the real complicating factor, because they do, as the word implies, really like each other. A lot.

Kazan gets the better name – Chantry – while Radcliffe is relegated to Wallace. Wallace?

Both get lots of zippy lines thanks to Elan Mastai’s script — which made the Black List in 2008 — and was adapted from the play by T.J. Dawe and Michael Rinaldi. It has the same kind of young smart set speak that you hear all the time in Lena Dunham’s “Girls.”

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And speaking of “Girls,” Adam Driver is Wallace’s best guy friend. I don’t think anyone’s doing narcissism better than Driver these days, and we get a nice variation on the subject here.

Kazan and Radcliffe are a good pairing — she’s so loose in her delivery, he’s so precise. Together they make Chantry and Wallace so charming working through the friction that you almost don’t care whether they ever become more than friends.




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