Love Me If You Dare (2003)

Guillaume Canet, Marion Cotillard, Thibault Verhaeghe, Joséphine Lebas-Joly,
As adults, best friends Julien and Sophie continue the odd game they started as children -- a fearless competition to outdo one another with daring and outrageous stunts. While they often act out to relieve one another's pain, the...
  • 7.5 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Writer:
  • Yann Samuell, Director:
  • Christophe Rossignon, Producer:

Trailer:

8 / 10

Love Means Saying "Game"

The first feature from French director Yann Samuell is an "expressionistic" allegory about love, disguised as a romantic fantasy. It is about how in our relationships we never outgrow childhood games or fully recover from the insecurities caused by deep childhood wounds. It is about how people in love constantly test each other. Each dare is a renewed demand for the other person to prove their love, no matter what the sacrifice.

"Love Me If You Dare" is a gimmick translation of "Jeux d'enfants", a better translation would be "Games of Children". But given the general confusion about this film by English speaking viewers and critics the inaccurate title is probably appropriate. Film Theory 101 would include a discussion of the two basic film extremes, realism and expressionism. Generally the closer a film comes to reproducing reality, the less room there is for the filmmaker to express his artistry. Which is not to say that realism is necessarily less manipulative than expressionism, both aim to effect their viewing audience, expressionism is just less constrained.

When you are used to a steady diet of Hollywood realism, it is difficult to switch gears and watch a film like "Jeux d'enfants" without attempting to force it into the realism mold. The temptation is to gloss over the surreal elements and to take everything you see literally. But Samuell has a background as an illustrator and designer. Note the inventive visuals that employ a multitude of cardboard cutouts and idyllic fantasy settings. This is expressionism. Note the accelerated action segments and strange transitions. This is expressionism. Note the interesting time passage montages and flashbacks.

While you sometimes see similar stuff incorporated into a realistic film, it is explained away as a dream, hallucination, or memory. Here it is a tip-off that this is a surreal allegory like Bunuel's "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie". If you avoid taking "Jeux d'enfants" too literally, stop being judgmental about the actions and motivations of its characters, and focus instead on picking up its allegorical elements you will probably understand it better and enjoy it more.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.

10 / 10

Love me - cap ou pas cap?

This bittersweet comedy about love is in line with great recent French movies such as Amelie or L'Auberge Espagnole, But Jeux d'Enfants is not trying to copy any of the previous. In fact, it is one of the most original movies I've seen lately.

Directed in a superb way by the inventive Yann Samuell, this film can make you laugh out loud in a minute and shed some tears on the next due to the extreme complexity of the feelings the director and the actors share with you. Nothing in this film seems exaggerated; it's a fairy tale of our time with a great dose of realism.

The chemistry between Guillaume Canet and Marion Cotillard is simply perfect.

Whether you like it or not, it's difficult to be indifferent to this movie and this is one of the best compliments a director can receive.

8 / 10

Until death us do part

To understand "Love Me If You Dare", one must harken back to childhood when fondness translated to teasing. So it is with Julien and Sophie, the central characters of this film, who in childhood become fast friends because of a game they share (or visa versa) which involves one challenging the other to do something outrageous while passing a gayly decorated candy canister to them. Upon completion of the dare, the canisters is passed back and the dared person announces "Game!". And so it goes, back and forth, as the children grow to adolescents and then to adults with the brinksmanship and friendship becoming increasingly substantial and the ubiquitous canister the ever present reminder of their unspoken bond. Finely crafted though sometimes disjointed, this creative work is full of life and energy and passion and its ever escalating story is maddeningly captivating and unsatisfying as it waxes toward its inevitable and somewhat clumsy conclusion. A love it or hate it audience dividing flick, "Love Me..." can be appreciated on as many levels as it can be condemned. The only way you'll know if you like it is to watch it. (A-)

9 / 10

Game?

Two children start an odd game of outdoing each other with limitless dares and stunts, but as they grow into adulthood their stunts become more dangerous and life threatening. Soon enough they realize that their continuation of the game had been a desperate attempt to hide the fact that they were meant for each other. Right away this film starts off in a dream like state, giving us the sense that we're really watching a school play put on by 4th graders. The mood is very light and playful and goes along with the child like innocence of Julien and Sophie. As the two characters mature so does the directing (for lack of a better phrasing). No longer do we feel like we are in the dream of a 10 year old. Reality settles in and eventually the mood in the film becomes very dark and almost depressing. I loved everything about this movie: the plot, the actors (and the chemistry between them) but most of all the directing. I liked the way Yann changed the mood in the film to match that of the character's ages. 9/10

1 / 10

Quite possibly the most annoying film I've ever seen

34 minutes was all I could take. This film's comedy is based entirely on vicious, childish attacks that are not funny at all. Even after the kids grow up, they retain their malicious mean streak and selfish disregard for the entire world outside themselves. And this is supposed to be funny? Well, maybe you'll find it funny if you're the kind of kid who likes to tear the wings off of flies. Maybe you'll think it's funny if your sense of humour is based on insulting or injuring others. But to the more mature audience, this is downright appalling.

The premise is that two kids grow up playing a mean-spirited game in which they constantly dare each other to do cruel things to innocent bystanders. I'll give you a few examples, and you can judge whether or not you'll get a laugh out of it.

1. Ruin a wedding by tipping over the food table and splattering the cake. 2. Seduce a random girl just to get her earrings. Then throw her earrings in the gutter (after making a rude comment to her). 3. See how many times you can slap a random young man. 4. Urinate on the principal's floor. 5. Stand in the middle of the road, holding up traffic. Then jump on top of one of the cars. 6. Drive a busload of kids into a brick house.

Are any of you laughing? I didn't think so. And don't expect to laugh if you see this movie, either. I walked out after 34 minutes, because that's all I could take. I can only imagine what's in the second half... do they start kicking over senior citizens in wheelchairs? Spreading herpes? Torturing cats? Ho ho what fun. This movie makes me want to punch someone.