Title: Dating Amber
Director: David Freyne
Genre: Drama, Comedy, Coming-of-Age
Main Cast: Fionn O’Shea, Lola Petticrew, Sharon Horgan, Barry Ward.
Runtime: 93 mins.
MDb rating: 7.8/10.
My rating: 7/10.
Quick summary: How do you stop the other kids at school calling you names and keep your parents happy for long enough to stop shouting at each other? Start a pretend-straight relationship with the only other gay kid at school!
I talked about this in my podcast today guys so if you’d prefer to listen you can right here and also at the bottom of this post! This movie is a lot more fun than my description suggests. While the ending mightn’t have made total sense to me, it might to some of you and overall the movie was a joy to watch.
I am a big fan of the 90’s setting and theme. Some people do believe that it has been done to death, with shows like Sex Education and The End of the F***ing World capitalising on people’s nostalgia and yearning for a simpler time. Even I, who was in school in the mid 2000’s, feel a bit safe and familiar watching shows set in this time. Especially these shows that deal with coming of age stories and being in school. It’s interesting to see these stories told in a time similar to when we were in school but also in similar places. It is hard to connect to American teen dramas sometimes when they drive out in their car to the hidden spot and lament their ‘hard’ lives while the hottest person in school comes on to them. In the shows I mentioned above and especially in this movie the sense of being trapped and having nowhere to go but down the trodden path of your ancestors feels all too real.
You might remember Fionn O’Shea from BBC Three and RTÉ’S Normal People. Do not let his stellar performance in that tarnish your impression of him here. His ability to play a character at the polar opposite end of the spectrum is testament to his acting skill. He nails the comedic effect of over-compensating for hiding his secret homosexuality by plastering his walls with posters of topless military men, adorning his bedside locker with penis-shaped bullets (I suppose all bullets are phallic, aren’t they?) and drawing penises themselves in every spare page of his copybook.
Alongside Fionn is Lola Petticrew. Like many of her female-lead counterparts in nostalgic teen dramedys she steals the show. She announces herself as Amber by throwing a rock at Fionn’s Eddie and just like the blow to Eddie’s ego, she knocks the wind out of us. All the time crass, loud and a bit obnoxious, she cares for her new friend. Petticrew’s emotional finale would bring a tear to a stone.
It just so happens that Sharon Horgan and Barry Ward are two of my favourite Irish actors. I have just started watching Catastrophe, the BAFTA and IFTA winning comedy and it is brilliant. Barry Ward had a brilliant turn as Martin Martin in Extra Ordinary, which I reviewed on my blog last year. Luckily, both of them are on top of their game in the limited time they get on screen. Horgan and Simone Kirby, who plays Amber’s mam, share a hilarious scene filled with expletives. It seems fitting that O’Shea and Petticrew, two future stars of Irish film get to share a screen with two of it’s current stars.
As much as I loved this movie there was always going to be one or two miniscule things that I would have preferred. I would have liked to have seen Eddie develop more of a dialogue/relationship with the other gay cadet and I also didn’t fully understand the ending. I don’t think it was in Eddie’s nature to just up and leave his family. In fairness, the film ends with him on the train so we don’t know if he actually did leave for London. The most important thing is that he gathered the courage to start trying to make it on his own.
Check this out on Amazon Prime now!
As I said at the beginning, I talked about this movie on my podcast. Every week I review a different movie or t.v. show. Once the cinemas open again it may be a new one each week but for now I am content reviewing things you may not have seen yet. Give it a listen, let me know what you think and share it around to your friends and family. Thank you all so much for listening 😀