'The F Word's' Michael Dowse directs a love story worthy of Hogtown

Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in

Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in "The F Word."

Liz Braun, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:57 PM ET

The same filmmaker behind the headbanger comedy FUBAR and the violent hockey larffs of Goon now presents … a romantic comedy?

Hell, yeah.

"I'm really proud of this film," says Michael Dowse about The F Word. "It was a very conscious effort to do something different, as opposed to my earlier films, which are a little more male, a little more visceral, a little more profane." He laughs.

"It was definitely me trying to do something different."

The F Word (also known as What If) is a sophisticated comedy about best friends falling in love. Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan are two people who cross paths and immediately connect, even though she already has a serious boyfriend. The leads become very good friends, but both grapple with whether or not their relationship will turn into something else. The story is based on a play (Toothpaste and Cigars) and has a wonderful screenplay by Elan Mastai.

It's the perfect date movie because it's edgy and funny, "So you can drag your boyfriend along and he's not going to be mad at you afterward," says Dowse.

"The script was great. I had so much confidence in how emotional it was and how funny it was … There's a real slow boil to it all. I found myself really rooting for these characters, and for that to happen in the script stage is rare for me. By the end of it, you're emotional about it. You want them to be together, and you relate to it. Everybody has a sort of point of reference to it, that idea of falling in love with a friend. At least I have," he says, laughing again.

"I'll use myself as an example."

Dowse, 41, is an example of how robust the film industry is in Quebec. Born in London, Ont., and raised in Calgary, Dowse lives in Montreal with his wife and two children. There is indeed a vibrant arts community in Montreal, he says, "But everybody just kind of shuts up and works, and there's not a lot of hoopla about our art scene. I think it's a creative and successful scene, and people put their noses down and get things done."

And the beauty of it, "Is that they can stay in Canada and do this. A lot of directors out of Quebec are setting the pace for that," he says, praising Denis Villeneuve, Jean-Marc Vallé, Ken Scott, Xavier Dolan and Philippe Falardeau. "Jean-Marc is probably the hottest director in Hollywood right now," adds Dowse. "He's had his ups and downs, but he's our finest director. He's an amazing talent. He's taken huge chances, done things like Cafe de Flore, a masterpiece in structure, then does Dallas Buyer's Club for $5 million, doesn't put up a single light and it's the most beautifully shot film, and two Oscars for his actors."

In Quebec, says Dowse, "There's a whole list of these guys. They get to make smaller movies that are really interesting. Who the hell else makes Incendies?" he says, referencing Villeneuve's 2010 Oscar-nominated movie.

"At a certain point they get the freedom to experiment and make films that are totally different. And take chances. And be rewarded for taking those chances."

Dowse himself has several writing projects on the go and hopes to do an action-comedy in Hollywood in the near future. He's made a studio film before (Take Me Home Tonight, 2001) and says of Hollywood, "It's kind of your dream scenario as a director. The place is filled with filmmakers and very smart people and they really support you as a director. They love film."

Dowse is currently being hailed as one of the great underrated comic talents of North American filmmaking, but he's just happy to be here. "As a director, you want to get to this phase, where you have a body of work behind you and people are excited to work with you. I couldn't be happier."

Twitter: @LizBraunSun

Liz.braun@sunmedia.ca


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