Love Me If You Dare/Jeux d’enfants

September 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

Imagine a romantic comedy about two unrepentant sociopaths.

Julian and Sophie meet as children, their instant bond a distraction from their problems (she’s a Polish immigrant, unceasingly teased by the other kids at school; his mom is dying of cancer). The two of them invent a game of trading dares, but as they grow older and the connection between them grows more and more electric, the stakes grow higher and the dares more dangerous. The two of them attempt to move on with their lives–meeting new lovers, starting families–but the game keeps drawing them back in, and each time it does, the dares get crueler. Still, neither of them are able to walk away from it, even though it threatens to ruin not only their lives, but the lives of those around them.

And don’t forget, it’s a comedy.

This is what Love Me If You Dare is about, if you take its plot literally. But I’m not sure that we’re meant to take it literally.

A movie like this couldn’t be made in the U.S. We like our rom-com protagonists bland and soulless, sans any serious flaws, virtual sets of Ken and Barbie. Marion Cotillard and Guillaume Canet are certainly pretty enough to play the leads in an American rom-com, but the comparisons end there. Sophie and Julian are hard, maybe even impossible, to like.  Like addicts, they don’t care about their significant others, their families, their jobs, or anything other than each other. But love does that, sometimes–or not love, maybe, but the all-consuming obsession that often passes for it. It makes people forget their wives, their children, their desk jobs, and their ability to make rational decisions. It can bury you. And yet it feels great while it does.

In the end, maybe Love Me If You Dare isn’t so much a comedy as it is a tragedy. A funny one, though.

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