In Dating Amber, queer teens Eddie (Fionn O’Shea) and Amber (Lola Petticrew) act as each others’ beards in 1995 Kildare, Ireland.
Coming out seems insurmountable to Eddie (Fionn O’Shea of Handsome Devil and Normal People) and Amber (Lola Petticrew) in 1995 Kildare, where even being suspected of queerness is cause enough for being bullied. Eddie has spent his entire life afraid to think about what he wants and find out who he is, too busy trying to please others, if not blocking out the entire world. An early scene in which he bikes through a military training exercise with live fire, completely oblivious because he’s listening to his walkman, is an apt metaphor for the blinders he has on to all aspects of his life.
When his classmate, Amber, who is also being bullied gets the idea that they could become each other’s beards (the original film title is Beards) by pretending to date, both their lives start to change. Eddie and Amber finally have a friend in each other, a partner in crime, and someone with whom they can be authentic — while hanging out under false pretenses. The more worldly Amber, who has always planned to leave town for the big city as soon as graduates, comes into herself first. She then helps push Eddie toward moving forward, even though he’s so afraid to admit to even himself who he is — not just that he’s gay, but that he has no interest in the military career his father dreams of for him.
Although the film is about whether or how Eddie and Amber are able to accept themselves and start living authentic lives, they’re still dealing with other problems: Amber, with her father’s recent suicide, and Eddie with his parents’ possible impending divorce. The film keeps things light with its bright colours, often matching what Eddie and Amber wear — the yellow of her coat with the yellow stripe on his jacket and the yellow of his bag — to hint at their compatibility, if not as romantic partners than as friends. Ultimately, it’s the performances that sell it and make you root for these misfits to find somewhere they feel like they fit in.
Dating Amber is on VOD in Canada and the US. You can stream it in the UK on Amazon Prime.
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