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Non-Review Review: Dating Amber

Dating Amber is a sweet, if perhaps overly familiar, coming of age story.

Dating Amber has a pretty compelling hook. Eddie and Amber are both gay teenagers growing up in rural Ireland during the mid-nineties. The country has just decriminalised sodomy, and finds itself in the midst of a highly divisive and contentious referendum on divorce. Against this backdrop, Amber hits on a clever idea to avoid the scrutiny of her classmates. She and Eddie will pretend to be a couple, so that they can both present as heterosexual long enough for Amber to escape this suffocating environment.

Vicious cycles.

It’s a very straightforward but compelling premise. It evokes the set-up of something like Easy A, tapping into the youthful anxieties of teenage life, and combines it with the increasingly progressive and diverse entries into the genre like Love Simon or Handsome Devil. Writer and director David Freyne draws from his own teenage experiences to add a level of authenticity, and the film is elevated by two winsome performances by Lola Petticrew and Fionn O’Shea.

The film lacks the delicate tonal balance that is necessary to elevate a teenage coming of age story from a charming affair to a classic of the genre, swerving too dramatically from its playful and cheeky opening premise to an overly earnest and sincere final stretch. It allows suffers slightly from a heavy reliance on formula, hitting most of the marks expected of a story like this, but never really finding a way to push past those conventions into something more profound or insightful. However, Dating Amber is an appealing and engaging entry into the genre.

Couple of friends.

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