Saturday, October 11, 2014

3 Short Paragraphs: The F Word

2013, Michael Dowse (Goon, It's All Gone Pete Tong) -- cinema

Otherwise known as What If in the rest of the world, the Canadian title of the movie says everything you need to know. No, its not about swearing, its an affable movie about being relegated to the friendzone and the troubles and responsibilities that come with that. To the average nice guy, this is the worst thing that can happen -- meet a nice girl, fall for her but hear those dastardly words, "Can we just be friends?" But being friendzoned comes with negative connotations, a sort of responsibility laid at the feet of the female side of the relationship, and this movie wants to sidestep this. The movie is about unrequited love, not sexual politics. For the most part.

Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) is a med school dropout, living with his sister and heartbroken about his ex. He runs into Chantry (Zoe Kazan) at a house party and the two click, in that snarky pop culture conversation sort of way. Part of me wants to rewatch some old youth movies to see if people talked this way in the pre-Buffy days. Clever, relevant and oh so intelligent, Chantry is the first woman to make Wallace think about someone other than his ex. And then she mentions her BF. But they shake hands and agree to be friends.  Allan (Adam Driver) thinks Wallace is being stupid, hiding his feelings for the sake of the gentlemanly friendship. Wallace is conflicted. But they are good as friends.

The first act of the movie is all short choppy walking scenes, that gives the watcher a tour of the cool spots in Toronto. Wallace and Chantry, Wallace and Allan, Wallace and his sister, Chantry and her sister, Chantry and her friends. There is some weird slapstick comedy and a few out of place, otherworldly scenes of animation come to life. I felt things were far too heavy handed on the quips and clips, but it did lead eventually into the actual turmoil of the movie -- how the two do not deal with the growing mutual feelings between them. There is real emotion bubbling to the surface tangled in real life decisions as the BF moves to Ireland for work and Chantry is offered animation work in Taiwan. When it all comes together the two have to dispense with the charming dialogue and just talk to each other about how they feel. There is plenty of time for charming dialogue after they get together, and sit on a roof watching the stars.