It’s not every week that a movie with a distinct Hamilton connection opens in theatres nationwide.
But this, folks, is one of those weeks.
After premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival last September, The F Word, starring Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, and American actress Zoe Kazan is up for its Canadian wide release on Friday.
The romantic comedy is based on Toothpaste and Cigarettes, a play that Hamilton actor and playwright Mike Rinaldi penned — along with fellow University of Victoria grad T.J. Dawe — in the early 2000s, when he was living in British Columbia.
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The F Word follows Wallace (Radcliffe), a med-school dropout who has a chance encounter with a young woman named Chantry (Kazan). When they meet, the two experience an instant connection. But because Chantry has a live-in boyfriend, they become best friends instead — to lovelorn Wallace’s dismay.
'I’m really looking forward to hearing people’s feedback, positive and negative.' —Mike Rinaldi
In a telephone interview with CBC Hamilton this week, Rinaldi said he's excited for people who are familiar with Toothpaste and Cigarettes to see the film.
"I can’t wait to hear everybody’s take on what’s different, what's the same," he said. "I’m really looking forward to hearing people’s feedback, positive and negative."
He admitted to logging onto online review sites like Rotten Tomatoes to see what moviegoers in other markets have had to say about The F Word. But because he wasn't very involved in the film's production — Toronto screenwriter Elan Mastai adapted the play for the silver screen and Montreal's Michael Dowse served as director — Rinaldi said reading negative reviews about the movie doesn't carry as much "sting."
"Because I feel a little bit disconnected from it, I enjoy [reading the reviews]."
Rinaldi said his "life has changed" since CBS Films signed on to distribute The F Word after its debut at TIFF. As a result of connections he made during the festival, he's working on developing projects for television — but he wouldn't go into more detail.
Years in development
The F Word, known as What If in the U.S., was in development for years before a team of Irish and Canadian producers signed on to make the film.
"It became really close to being made on a few occasions, and those were real rollercoaster-nerve times," Rinaldi told CBC Hamilton last September.
Along with their two sons, Rinaldi and his wife, actress Juno Ruddell, moved to Hamilton from Vancouver last year, settling near Gage Park.
Rinaldi has said he got the idea to move to Hamilton when he was visiting the set of The F Word, which was filmed in Toronto.
On the same trip, he met the film’s cast and crew, including The F Word's leading man. He described British-born Radcliffe as “perfect” for the role of Wallace, a character Rinaldi based loosely on himself.
"I had been told… that he's really self-effacing," said Rinaldi. "That's still my default and that's how the character was written — to be really self-deprecating and undercutting himself all the time."