The paparazzi at the Venice Film Festival were calling out “Haree, ’aree!” to get Daniel Radcliffe’s attention earlier this week, but anyone who’s paying attention to the Toronto International Film Festival knows that Radcliffe, 24, has been working hard to put a certain lightning-marked wizard behind him. He has three films at TIFF, in three pointedly different genres, and he's here this weekend to promote them.
In the romantic comedy The F Word, directed by Calgary native Michael Dowse (Fubar, Goon), Radcliffe sparkles as Wallace, a med school dropout in Toronto who befriends and immediately falls for a charming animator (Zoe Kazan). Sort of a When Harry Met Sally Met Tattoos, it asks (and answers) the perennial question, “Can a man and a woman be friends?” with style and wit. As a pair of believable brainies, Radcliffe and Kazan have a great rat-a-tat repartee, a Nick and Nora for the new millennium. And Toronto looks fabulous, too.
In Horns, on the other hand, from French director Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes, Piranha) – and from the novel by Joe Hill, who is Stephen King’s son – Radcliffe plays no less powerful a personage than the Devil himself. In a small town in the Pacific Northwest, Ig Perrish (Radcliffe) wakes one day to find that A) horns have grown out of his head, and B) suddenly everyone he meets wants to confess his or her darkest secrets and desires to him. And as Julian Assange (subject of TIFF’s opening night film, The Fifth Estate) knows, no one has more power than the person people tell their secrets to.
As grown-up as those two films are, the third, Kill Your Darlings, goes a step farther. Directed by John Krokidas (making his feature debut), it’s based on the true story of the charismatic Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan, another young actor to watch), who in New York in the 1940s helped bring together the Beat poets, and who also murdered a friend, David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall).
Radcliffe plays the nascent poet Allen Ginsberg with a note-perfect New York accent and a startling vulnerability as he discovers art – and love – with Carr. The sex scenes alone, both frank and tender, prove that Radcliffe is up to any adult challenge. Ciao, Haree. And welcome, Daniel, to a new chapter.