Love Me If You Dare (2003)

It’s not exactly cabin fever (we had only been there a week!), but something was definitely in the air that night we watched Love Me If You Dare at the Writers Village. I don’t remember whose idea it was, but Gio, Vida, Karlo, TJ, Debbie, and I ended up watching this movie after dinner—probably as a last attempt to cling to our productive city habits. Valencia’s charms won us over anyway, but at least for that night we managed to drown out the cicadas.

Romantic movies seem to be my thing lately (Titanic, One More Chance). Despite the obvious love story, it doesn’t seem quite right to lump Love Me If You Dare in the group. It’s far from being a category of its own, but it definitely doesn’t belong in such a conventional, realistic set either. Real-life couple Guillaume Canet and Marion Cotillard star as childhood playmates Julien and Sophie, whose friendship revolves around a ceaseless game of dares. At first merely innocent and playful, their challenges escalate as they grow older, becoming more vindictive and dangerous at every turn—until eventually the game becomes their all-consuming obsession.

Julien and Sophie give up many things for love—a parent, marriages, children—but what they hold on to most fervently, what they never let go of, is the game. In establishing the rules of their relationship, it both binds and breaks them. One haunting question reverberates throughout the film: “Cap ou pas cap?” It’s a query posed as much to the characters as to the audience: Are you game? In asking this, Love Me If You Dare highlights its own absurdity, flaunting it, daring viewers to believe the incredible. Each scene adds to this growing sense of disbelief, finally culminating in two alternate endings—one charming, the other disturbing, neither seemingly real.

Even as I was sitting through this film, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d already seen this somewhere before. The camera tricks, the fast-paced narration, the witty repartees—the movie reminded me so much of Amélie—and it pales in comparison. Love Me If You Dare has some things going for it, and it might have worked with a more original framework (and a better lead-up to the ending, or a different ending); but as it is, the similarities are much too striking to be ignored, and it ends up falling short of its cinematic vision.

‘Cover your ears, cover them well. Do you hear how I love you? That’s all that matters.’


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