Reviewer's Rating 3 out of 5   User Rating 4 out of 5
Love Me If You Dare (Jeux d'Enfants) (2004)
15Contains strong language and moderate sex

An unexpected box office hit in France, this eccentric romantic fantasy from debut writer- director Yann Samuell stars Guillaume Canet (The Beach) and Marion Cotillard (Big Fish) as friends from childhood who charge though life daring one another to carry out unconventional acts. Reminiscent of Amelie in its blend of whimsicality and frenetic direction, Love Me If You Dare provides an enjoyable ride, even if style wins out over substance.

Sophie and Julien meet as suburban school children: she is being teased about her working-class Polish origins, he is having to cope with his mother's terminal illness and a distraught father. The kids bond through their love of mischief-making, and this isn't a phase they grow out of. As adults it's clear that their sexual feelings for one another have been displaced into their escalating mutual dares, with Sophie causing chaos at Julien's wedding ceremony. Now, years later, it's the man's turn to come up with a prank to get back his true soulmate, who has married a famous footballer...

"LIKEABLE PERFORMANCES FROM THE TWO LEADS"

Crammed with incidents, Love Me If You Dare flies along in an attempt to replicate the giddy sensations of its characters: one high-speed chase has Julien pursued by the police and enthusing over the "pure, raw explosive pleasure" of carrying out a dare. Samuell throws in an array of directorial tricks: fast-forwards, fantasy sequences, digital effects, and skewed angles.

Yet the true strength here are the likeable performances from the two leads, who convey the confidence and the naivety of their characters:. This may be heresy to Amelie lovers, but Cotillard is far less irritating and ingratiating than the winsome Audrey Tautou. And there's a malevolent streak to the film - whether it's urinating in the headmaster's study or switching bodies in a hospital - alongside its sense of romantic pessimism, which prevents the material from becoming overly cloying.

In French with English subtitles.

End Credits

Director: Yann Samuell

Writer: Yann Samuel, Jacky Cukier

Stars: Guillaume Canet, Marion Cotillard, Gérard Watkins, Emmanuelle Grönvold, Thibault Verhaeghe, Joséphine Lebas-Joly

Genre: Drama, Romance, World Cinema

Length: 94 minutes

Cinema: 20 August 2004

Country: France

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