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Love Me If You Dare (May 25/04)

It'd be easy to call Love Me If You Dare, a French import, just another Amelie clone. It certainly shares that film's penchant for unique visuals and off-kilter characters. But the similarities end there. Love Me If You Dare presents a far more cynical and often downright cruel perspective on relationships, though the film's bubbly look keeps it from becoming too dark.

The story revolves around Julien (Guillaume Canet) and Sophie (Marion Cotillard), whose bizarre friendship has been ongoing since childhood. It was then that the pair developed a game involving dares, initiated by whichever of the two is holding onto a metallic toy. As they grow up, the dares escalate - ie Julien dares Sophie to attend a pivotal exam wearing her underwear over her clothes - but the obvious attraction between the two has seemingly been ignored in favor of further pranking hijinks.

There's something awfully twisted about Love Me If You Dare, and as a result, viewers with a more romantic sensibility will find little here to enjoy. This certainly isn't the sort of movie in which the two lovers quarrel for 90 minutes and then embrace just before the end credits roll. Writer/director Yann Samuell's skewed point of view permeates every frame of the film and it's clear that he's not interested in exploring the traditional way love and relationships are perceived.

What the movie really boils down to is the two central characters, and it becomes obviously almost immediately that whether or not you're going to enjoy the film has a lot to do with Julien and Sophie. And, admittedly, their cavalier attitude towards life is initially quite intriguing. Despite the protests of everyone around them, the pair continue to approach everything the way they did as kids; even something serious, like a wedding ceremony, is fair game for one of their outrageous dares.

But eventually, it just becomes tiresome. It's cute for a while, but then you just want them to grow up already. At a certain point - perhaps when the characters enter adulthood - there's no denying the anti-social streak to their actions, and it's a wonder they're not committed by one of the periphery characters. It makes sense, then, that the film ends the way it does - though Samuell plays one last prank on the audience and inserts unnecessary ambiguity regarding Julien and Sophie's fate.

out of

© David Nusair