Dating Amber (2020)

Two LGBTQ teens come of age by forging a “relationship” in this witty and emotional Irish drama from writer-director David Freyne.

Eddie has somewhat wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the military once high school is over. There is only one problem. He’s gay and he hasn’t come out to his family yet due to the fear they will disown him. As a matter of fact, he hasn’t come out to anyone out of the fear he will be ridiculed. However, his world is about to change when he meets Amber, a lesbian teen who like Eddie, hasn’t come out to her family, which consists of her mother as her father has passed away just recently.

The two decide to come up with an idea to make everyone around them feel at ease. They decide to fake being a couple. Soon enough, the bond between Eddie and Amber grows stronger and it does cause some tension between their families when they start canoodling at night. However, when Amber meets Sarah, a lesbian teen, the strong bond between Eddie and Amber begins to break and to make matters worse, Eddie begins to show signs of denial about who he really is. As school comes to an end, will both Eddie and Amber be able to repair their broken bond and for Eddie, will he be able to come to grips about who he really is?

This Irish coming-of-age tale is quite wonderful to watch as we see two LGBTQ teens who are in denial only to come to terms with their identities. The standouts of the films are lead actors Fionn O’Shea and Lola Petticrew, who play our protagonists Eddie and Amber. While O’Shea’s Eddie is the one who fears the most when it comes to his sexuality, Petticrew’s Amber is headstrong as not only she is mostly proud of her identity, but even shows herself to be a businesswoman, renting out an abandoned trailer to couples who need to get their freak on.

Eddie is the most conflicted of the duo. He tries too hard to act straight as it is clear he may have an attraction to a fellow military recruit as well as his teacher. When he is with Amber, he feels more of a sense of freedom about who he is, but in a pivotal moment, a fun time at a LGBTQ bar brings back that regression as Eddie is with a patron only to see a vision of his brother, bringing back that fear of coming out. To prove his manliness to his father, played by the great Barry Ward, the two embark on a “training” in the woods which proves to be more funny than serious. There is a nice little twist involving Eddie’s parents and their troubling marriage due to the father’s military service.

As for Amber, she seems at ease and with her “relationship” with Eddie, she becomes freer and has a dream of leaving Ireland for London when school ends. She helps Eddie comes to terms with himself and even finds her true love in the form of Sarah, played by Lauryn Canny. It is when Amber and Sarah’s relationship comes into fruition that Amber now feels she must do the right thing, even if it means hurting the one person who she helps throughout his journey. This eventually leads to a very unclear and yet satisfying finale where it’s about coming to grips with who you are.

Dating Amber is a terrific coming of age film about not being afraid to be who you are. Fionn O’Shea and Lola Petticrew are perfectly cast as they have excellent chemistry. This would be a great double feature with another O’Shea-led film, Handsome Devil.

WFG RATING: A-

Samuel Goldwyn Films presents a Screen Ireland production in association with Altitude Film Entertainment, The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, RTE, and A Particular Crowd. Director: David Freyne. Producers: John Keville and Rachael O’Kane. Writer: David Freyne. Cinematography: Ruairi O’Brien. Editing: Joe Sawyer.

Cast: Fionn O’Shea, Lola Petticrew, Sharon Horgan, Barry Ward, Simon Kirby, Evan O’Connor, Ian O’Reilly, Emma Willis, Lauryn Canny, Anastasia Blake, Shaun Dunne.

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