Love Me If You Dare (15)
Time Out saysChildhood mischief escalates, and then some, in this bustling psycho-thriller which fails to persuade as an ultra-black comedy. At eight years of age, Sophie realises Julien is her kind of guy when she dares him to release the handbrake on the school bus, and he does it. A little tin box then becomes their talisman: each time it changes hands, it comes with a dare, and refusing would break the spell. Years later, we find Sophie taking an important oral examination with her bra and pants over her clothes, and as Guillaume Canet and Marion Cotillard assume the roles of the grown-up characters, puerile naughtiness gives way to sexual humiliation and shocking violence. Will the dare to spend a decade out of contact with each other dampen their perverse ardour?
There’s definitely something creepy about the central relationship, which seems less a matter of sexual obsession than a continuing displacement of the fear that sex might undo Sophie and Julien’s long-established bond. Writer-director Samuell’s big idea is to shoot it all with the saturated colours and hyper-saturated storytelling delivery of an ‘Amélie’, so we’ll succumb to its bad-seed charm early on and stick with it when the going gets tougher. It’s a big gamble which just doesn’t come off, since the giddy whirl of twisted single-mindedness soon loses touch with recognisable psychology or narrative credulity. Perhaps the very point is that they have disappeared into their own vortex, but it’s an exasperating viewing experience, which may leave you struggling to quell uncharitable thoughts of the slap-them-they’re-French variety. And that’s before the soundtrack gives us an umpteenth version of ‘Ma Vie En Rose’.