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Inside Out 2020 Review: Dating Amber

October 4, 2020

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Eddie (Fionn O’Shea) and Amber (Lola Petticrew) are two closeted gay teenagers in Ireland circa 1995, who are tired of the constant homophobic taunts from their classmates and decide to put rumours about their sexuality to rest by pretending to date each other. Despite the destined to be platonic nature of their relationship, a close bond does form between the two.

Eddie is being pressured by his military father (Barry Ward) to enlist after he graduates, while Amber has dreams of moving to London, where she can be freed from the traditional social mores of her home country. Things start off well, but obvious complications arise from their fake relationship, which Eddie starts using as an excuse to repress his desires in increasingly unhealthy ways.

What works so well about Dating Amber is the way that writer/director David Freyne builds upon its lightly comedic setup to offer a touching and far more challenging look at repression and internalized homophobia. While it starts off as a delightful twist on the romantic comedy genre, with a distinct Irish charm to it, the film also becomes something deeper and more melancholic. Eddie’s own sense of shame around being gay causes him to act quite awful to other people at times, and the film doesn’t shy away from showing that.

While Eddie and Amber aren’t in a romantic relationship, we still end up rooting for them, which is a tricky balance that Freyne pulls of quite nimbly. The film is built around a nuanced performance from O’Shea, as well as a confident, breakout role for newcomer Petticrew. This is ultimately a very enjoyable film that becomes quite poignant in how it explores the internal struggle between who you are and external expectations about who you should be. 

Lola Petticrew and Fionn O’Shea in Dating Amber

The 30th annual Inside Out LGBT Film Festival runs from October 1st to 11th, with online screenings available to anyone in Ontario, and some special drive-in presentations in Toronto.

Dating Amber is screening online until October 11th, tickets can be purchased right here.

More Inside Out 2020 Reviews: Jump, Darling; Shiva Baby (TIFF 2020)No Ordinary Man (TIFF 2020); Keyboard Fantasies: The Beverly Glenn-Copeland Story (Hot Docs 2020); There’s No Place Like This Place, Anyplace (Hot Docs 2020); The Obituary of Tunde Johnson (TIFF 2019).

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