Dating Amber (Amazon Prime)
Starring Fionn Shea, Lola Petticrew
Directed by David Freyne
Rating: ****(4 stars)
When it comes to films about sexual orientation it is always like walking on thin ice. Just how horribly wrong the laughs, when applied to the theme of homosexuality, can go, was proven by Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, a film so busy patting its back that it forgot to protect its backside.
One just has to see this fabulously funny and immeasurably sad Irish film on being gay and trying not to be unhappy, to know that sensitivity and satire can go hand in hand. A craze on release, Dating Amber is about two adolescent school kids who are discovering their sexuality and …well…they come up with an uncomfortable reality.
Eddie (Fion O’Shea) is gay and not admitting it, Amber (Lola Petticrew) is more comfortable with her lesbianism. And together they make quite a pair! The pact between Eddie and Amber is straight(!)forward. They will act as a straight couple to avoid jibes and bullying in school.
Irish director David Freyne (who has earlier dabbled in horror) is so at home digging deep into his young mixed-up couple’s brain and libido.
“It’s simple, really,” says the outspoken Amber, “You want cock. I want pussy.”
Simple, indeed. This is a film that pulls out all the stops to reveal what a pain in the ass adolescence can be, particularly if you don’t conform. The bullying in Eddie and Amber’s school is shown as borderline brutal, yet it is terribly funny to see these pubescent students with their posturings of sexual experience and contempt for those who are not masculine or feminine enough.
But they don’t mean any harm, really. There are no villains in Dating Amber. And as the farcical arrangement between Eddie and Amber grows into a beautiful bonding based on marginalization and isolation , Dating Amber emerges as one of the strongest most rousing films on homosexuality on this side—or ANY side—of Call Be My Your Name.
While the two young actors in the lead are absolute naturals, the supporting cast of their school pals is disarmingly authentic. Really, where do they find these performers?! The parents, no ogres in their children’s lives, are played by actors who know they are in this not just to make a statement but to have fun. Barry Ward who plays Eddie’s very masculine father has an unforgettable meltdown sequence.
Yes, tough guys do cry, especially when given the right impetus.
Dating Amber is funny and sad, heartwarming and heart-melting. The language is strong, yes. But then this is a film about finding your sexuality. Disney fans, please look away.