Love Me If You Dare (review)

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If the Amelieization of French film is going to continue much longer, count me out. Self-conscious in its cynical Gallic whimsy and exuding none of the innocent charm of its delightful progenitor, this “comedy” — which veers wildly from icky instances of near-incest to repulsive demonstrations of emotional brutality — features just about the most unlikable couple ever to subject us to their romantic tribulations. Julien (Guillaume Canet) and Sophie (Marion Cotillard: Big Fish) have been challenging each other to increasingly more bizarre dares since they were children together, and now that they’re adults, actually growing up and falling in love with each other is meant to be the most formidable act of risk-taking of them all. Perhaps writer (with Jacky Cukier) and director Yann Samuell intended this as an urbane, unsentimental look at contemporary relationships, but this distasteful film is so disenchanted with anything approaching the unexpected sweet tenderness of romance as to be entirely sadistic: If a film could beat the audience up with love, this one does. In this atmosphere, the dreamy, fanciful detours into philosophies of sex, gender politics, and death are even more grating than they might have been in a less aggressive film.

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