Owen Gleiberman
May 18, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Love Me If You Dare

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
94 minutes
Limited Release Date
05/21/04
performer
Guillaume Canet, Marion Cotillard
director
Yann Samuell
distributor
Paramount Classics
author
Jacky Cukier, Yann Samuell
genre
Drama, Romance

We gave it a C-

The award for the most annoying character to appear in a movie so far this year turns out to be a tie: It goes to both of the oh-so-swankly tormented romantic mischief makers of Love Me if You Dare. Julien and Sophie are soul mates from childhood who have a peculiar way of acting out their devotion. The two possess a small tin candy box that is painted to look like a merry-go-round. For no obvious reason, it becomes the totem of their ”game,” in which each dares the other to do…whatever errant whim strikes his or her fancy. The weird thing is, the dares aren’t lyrical or poetic; they’re more like frat-house stunts. When the two are kids, Julien (Thibault Verhaeghe) must urinate on a school floor, and later, at a wedding, Sophie (Josephine Lebas-Jolly) has to jerk a tablecloth so that the dessert sitting on top of it comes crashing down. What divine madness! What freedom from bourgeois morality!

What a tiresome crock. Yann Samuell, the writer-director of ”Love Me if You Dare,” has shot the entire film in a candy-colored frenetic style that suggests ”Amélie” restaged as a domestic demolition derby. The camera keeps swooping through rooms, yet all the racing movement leads to nothing but the next voluptuously meaningless shot. As adults, Julien and Sophie (Guillaume Canet and Marion Cotillard) are meant to have an ”amour” too perfect for this world. They carry on separate lives but grow impotent and angry, remaining in touch by teasing each other with increasingly violent dares. Couldn’t they have just taken up backgammon? A relationship this extreme needs to be rooted in a union of the spirit, but Canet, who bears an unfortunate resemblance to Patrick Dempsey, and Cotillard, a cutie-pie who sneers far too easily, evince all the depth and connection of rival stockbrokers.

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