The F Word (2013 film)

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The F Word
The F Word theatrical poster.png
Canadian theatrical release poster
Directed byMichael Dowse
Produced by
  • David Gross
  • Macdara Kelleher
  • André Rouleau
  • Jesse Shapira
  • Jeff Arkuss
Screenplay byElan Mastai
Based onToothpaste and Cigars
by TJ Dawe
and Michael Rinaldi[1]
Music byA. C. Newman
CinematographyRogier Stoffers
Edited byYvann Thibaudeau
Distributed byEntertainment One
Release date
  • September 7, 2013 (2013-09-07) (TIFF)
  • August 20, 2014 (2014-08-20) (Ireland)
  • August 22, 2014 (2014-08-22) (Canada)
Running time
102 minutes[2]
  • Canada
  • Ireland
Budget$11 million[3]
Box office$7.8 million[4]

The F Word (released in some countries as What If?) is a 2013 romantic comedy film directed by Michael Dowse and written by Elan Mastai, based on TJ Dawe and Michael Rinaldi's play Toothpaste and Cigars.[5] The film stars Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Megan Park, Adam Driver, Mackenzie Davis, and Rafe Spall and follows a pair of best friends who begin to have feelings for each other.

It premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2013, and was released in Canada on August 22, 2014. The film was a nominee for Best Picture at the 2nd Canadian Screen Awards, and won for Adapted Screenplay.


Wallace has an odd job and lives with his sister and nephew in Toronto, Ontario. He dropped out of medical school after discovering his girlfriend having sex with his anatomy teacher and has not been social for more than a year. He is coerced by his best friend Allan into going to a house party, where he meets Allan's cousin Chantry, who works as an animator. At the same time, Allan meets Nicole and they begin flirting with each other.

Chantry and Wallace leave the party and he walks her home, where he finds out that Chantry has a boyfriend. Nevertheless, she gives him her phone number, but he decides against calling her. They later run into each other at a movie theater, where they had both gone alone, and end up having dinner together.

Over time the friendship grows and Wallace is invited to meet Ben, Chantry's long-term boyfriend, who works for the United Nations. Ben ends up in the hospital due to a series of unexpected accidents when Wallace visits their house for the first time. At the hospital, Wallace and Chantry run into Wallace's ex-girlfriend, Megan. Ben later moves to Dublin, Ireland, for six months due to requirements of his job. During this time, Wallace and Chantry begin to see their relationship develop further and they begin to have deeper feelings for each other.

Allan and Nicole get married. Chantry's sister Dalia tries to seduce Wallace in her car, but he does not reciprocate, because Wallace is worried that it would ruin any chance he would have with Chantry. Later on, Allan and Nicole invite the two to have a walk on the beach at night. They decide to go skinny dipping and soon Wallace and Chantry decide to join, whereupon Allan and Nicole steal their clothes, forcing them to sleep naked together on the beach. Wallace and Chantry feel forced into the intimate situation and begrudgingly decide to share the sleeping bag. The next day they leave the beach angrily.

Chantry is given a promotion to direct an animated project in Taiwan. However, she is pressured because of her strained relationship with Ben so she travels to Dublin to join him. On arriving, she discovers that Ben has accepted more work commitments that require him to travel frequently and she decides to break off the relationship. Meanwhile, Wallace decides to follow Chantry; upon arriving, Ben punches him in the face, knocking him down the front stairs. He then checks his voicemail, learning that she has returned to Toronto. They meet, but Wallace tells Chantry about the trip and his feelings for her and she responds unfavourably.

Wallace considers going back to medical school and moving on with his life; however, he decides to attend Chantry's farewell party and they have a tearful goodbye. They finally admit to their mutual feelings while giving each other a Fool's Gold Sandwich, something they had previously discussed while hanging out together, and kiss.

In an epilogue set 18 months later, it is revealed that Wallace followed Chantry to Taiwan and proposed to her there while he completed his medical studies. They marry and contemplate the rest of their lives while sitting on Wallace's rooftop.



Elan Mastai's script was included in the Black List's 2008 survey.[12] Principal photography began mid-August 2012, in Toronto.[13] A six-week shoot took place in Ontario,[14] and ended with three days in Dublin, Ireland.[15] The scene in which Wallace runs into Chantry at a movie theater was filmed at the Royal Cinema.[16] Most of the filming in Toronto took places within the East Chinatown, Leslieville and Riverdale district among other regions within downtown Toronto and Scarborough.[17] The scene in which Wallace and Chantry skinny dip together was filmed at the Scarborough Bluffs. Filming additional scenes for a new ending took place in Toronto in November 2013.[18] After testing the film with different focus groups, the filmmakers realized audiences wanted a more conclusive ending, and new scenes set eighteen months later were shot. Daniel Radcliffe initially felt weird about changing the ending, but then felt "'really happy with it'".[19] Producer Michael Dowse felt that it was important to film in Toronto since the city is not usually featured in many classic romantic comedies as the main setting of the film.[20] Casey Affleck was originally attached to play the lead, but was later replaced by Radcliffe.[21] Radcliffe admits that it was important for him to have a role in this film since he had never starred in a contemporary movie and something that he always wanted to try[22] In an interview with Cineplex, Radcliffe said that he and co-star Zoe Kazan improvised many of their lines within the movie in order to create a natural atmosphere between the two characters.[23]


The film's worldwide distribution rights were acquired by Entertainment One[24] and they handled the theatrical release in Canada and the United Kingdom.[25] North American sales of distribution were obtained by the UTA.[26]

Name change[edit]

CBS Films eventually bought the US distribution rights,[27] following the film's world premiere at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.[28] CBS Films changed the release title in the United States to What If due to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) taking issue with the implied foul word in the "F" part (fuck) of The F Word.[29] The Motion Picture Association of America also strived for a PG-13 rating for the movie, according to producer David Gross, causing the name change in the United States.[30] It was also retitled by Entertainment One for the UK,[31] but retained the original for the Canadian release.[29]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD and for streaming on November 25, 2014.[32]


The F Word's soundtrack was scored by A. C. Newman and features artists such as Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, Patrick Watson, Marsha Hunt, and the Parting Gifts. The album itself has 17 tracks, 13 of which were written by A. C. Newman.

Track listing[33]
1."(Walkin' Through the) Sleepy City ft. The Parting Gifts"1:58
2."The Ballad of Wallace and Chantry"2:28
3."At the Movies, in the Changing Room"2:10
4."Just Walking to the Dress Shop"2:49
5."Hospital Happiness"1:17
6."Into Giants ft. Patrick Watson"4:28
7."Dropping Chantry Off"1:29
8."Beach Bummer"2:07
9."Chantry's Ticket"1:23
10."(Oh No! Not) the Beast Day ft. Marsha Hunt"3:14
11."Making a List"1:34
12."Last Minute Travel Plans"0:59
13."Punched out in Dublin"1:21
14."Booking It Back"2:51
15."Diner Drag"1:33
16."Packing with Dalia"1:08
17."Let's Get High [Explicit] ft. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros"6:30
Total length:36:08


Critical response[edit]

During the TIFF festival, The F Word was considered "... as one of the hottest films ..." at the festival and was "... subsequently named one of Canada's TOP 10 by TIFF ..."[34]

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 72% based on 120 reviews, with an average rating of 6.3/10. The site's critical consensus states: "Its narrative framework may be familiar, but What If transcends its derivative elements with sharp dialogue and the effervescent chemistry of stars Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan."[32] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 59 out of 100, based on reviews from 36 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[35]

John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter gave a positive review of the film, remarking, "Hitting all the rom-com notes with wit and some charm, it'll be a crowd-pleaser in theaters and help moviegoers move on from seeing co-star Daniel Radcliffe only as the world's favorite wizard".[36] Justin Chang of Variety wrote, "Roughly three parts charming to one part cloying, 'The F Word' attempts and largely succeeds at pulling off a smart, self-aware riff on romantic-comedy conventions while maintaining a core of earnest feeling".[37] gave it a 7.2 out of 10, noting that it was "elevated from an above-average romantic comedy to a movie worthy of being embraced by a generation of twenty somethings because it refuses to let its characters off the hook".[38]'s Chris Bumbray said that the film "feels like it could be the Toronto answer to the Sundance breakout hit 500 Days of Summer. Like that movie, it takes a stale genre, and gives it a hip indie twist. It is director Michael Dowse's follow-up to GOON, and just like that film, its hilariously foul script disguises a surprisingly soft, big-hearted centre".[39] Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times thought it was "the best, and sweetest, of the filmmaker's work yet".[40]

The Guardian initially scored the film two out of five stars, saying it was "really hard to finish" and "liable to leave you queasy"[41] but a later review by a different reviewer scored the film four out of five stars describing it as a "light, delightful movie".[42] Katherine Monk of Postmedia News reported that "It's a competent genre piece, but it's still a bland burger of a movie." and adding it is a movie that audiences have "...seen a hundred times before.".[43] Eric Kohn of IndieWire wrote, "The movie primarily frustrates by doing nothing fresh. Careening toward an overly neat and tender resolution, "The F Word" lacks the gall to let its uncoordinated characters wind up victims of their situation".[44] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone remarked that "What If doesn't break new ground. But it has charm to spare, and Radcliffe and Kazan are irresistible. No ifs about it", giving it an overall positive review.[45]

The film has also been criticized for having an entirely caucasian cast,[46] despite being set in Toronto, with people of colour making up nearly half of Toronto's population.[47] Alexandra Heeney of The Seventh Row writes "there's something very wrong with the fact that the entire cast is white".[48]


Year Award Recipient Result
2014 Canadian Screen Award for Best Picture The F Word[49] Nominated
Canadian Screen Award for Best Director Michael Dowse Nominated
Canadian Screen Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role Daniel Radcliffe Nominated
Canadian Screen Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role Mackenzie Davis Nominated
Canadian Screen Award for Best Motion Picture André Rouleau

David Gross

Macdara Kelleher

Canadian Screen Award for Best Adapted Screenplay Elan Mastai Won
Directors Guild of Canada Craft Award for Direction - Feature Film Michael Dowse Nominated
Directors Guild of Canada Team Award for Feature Film Michael Dowse

Regina Robb

and team[50]

Rogers Award for Best Canadian Film Michael Dowse Nominated
Writers Guild of Canada Award for Movies & Miniseries Elan Mastai Won
2015 Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Screenplay for a Canadian Film Elan Mastai Nominated


  1. ^ Anderton, Ethan (13 May 2013). "First Look: Daniel Radcliffe Friendly with Zoe Kazan in 'The F Word'". Retrieved 20 July 2013.
  2. ^ "WHAT IF (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 25 June 2014. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  3. ^ Setoodeh, Ramin; Setoodeh, Ramin (5 August 2014). "Why Hollywood Shouldn't Give Up on the Romantic Comedy".
  4. ^ "What If (2014)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  5. ^ McKay, Stephanie (6 August 2014). "Fringe veteran's baby all grown up". The StarPhoenix. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
  6. ^ Warner, Kara (18 October 2012). "Daniel Radcliffe Teaches Us About 'The F Word'". Retrieved 20 July 2013.
  7. ^ Rosen, Christopher (17 July 2012). "Daniel Radcliffe & Zoe Kazan Up For 'The F Word'". Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  8. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (1 August 2012). "'Girls' Star Adam Driver Says 'The F Word' With Zoe Kazan & Daniel Radcliffe". Archived from the original on 3 June 2013. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  9. ^ McNary, Dave (16 August 2012). "Spall, Park join 'The F Word'". Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  10. ^ Trumbore, Dave (18 August 2012). "Heather Graham Boards Indie Comedy FEED THE DOG; Rafe Spall, Megan Park and Mackenzie Davis Join Daniel Radcliffe in THE F WORD". Retrieved 21 July 2013.
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  14. ^ Cummins, Steve (13 September 2012). "'Harry Potter' Star Daniel Radcliffe To Film 'The F Word' In Ireland". Retrieved 20 July 2013.
  15. ^ Murphy, Claire (14 September 2012). "Harry Potter star on his way to film new Irish rom-com". Retrieved 20 July 2013. they decide to become friends -- the so-called 'F Word'
  16. ^ Barnard, Linda (9 September 2013). "Daniel Radcliffe in The F Word, a very Toronto romance at TIFF 2013". Retrieved 20 November 2014.
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  19. ^ "Radcliffe 'really happy' with F Word ending". The Chronicle Herald. 21 August 2014. Archived from the original on 3 September 2014. Retrieved 10 December 2018. the “F” in the original title refers to “friends”
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  24. ^ Vlessing, Etan (18 September 2012). "Toronto 2012: Entertainment One Secures Foreign Sales for 'The F Word' and 'Song for Marion'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  25. ^ Sneider, Jeff (17 July 2012). "'Potter' star ramps up romantic comedy". Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  26. ^ Fernandez, Jay A. (17 July 2012). "Here's the First Daniel Radcliffe Romantic Comedy: 'The F Word' Picked Up by eOne for the World". Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  27. ^ Chitwood, Adam (11 September 2013). "TIFF 2013: THE F WORD Goes to CBS Films, Weinstein Acquires ELEANOR RIGBY and RAILWAY MAN, and Lionsgate Nabs LIFE OF CRIME". Retrieved 11 September 2013.
  28. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (7 August 2013). "TIFF 2013 Adds 'Enemy' Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, 'The F Word' With Daniel Radcliffe, Xavier Dolan's Latest & More". Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  29. ^ a b Vlessing, Etan (14 March 2014). "'The F Word' Retains Original Title for Canadian Release". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
  30. ^ "The F Word gets a scrubbed-down title in the U.S." Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  31. ^ Cox, Rebecca (15 May 2014). "World Exclusive: See Daniel Radcliffe's new film poster". Retrieved 19 May 2014.
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  47. ^ A city of unmatched diversity, The Toronto Star, 5 December 2007
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External links[edit]