Updated: Jun 18
What is it about comedy in Irish entertainment - they always seem to throw a few funnier punches than our own weak British jokes. Take 'Derry Girls' for example, a hilariously outspoken series about teenagers growing up in 1990s Northern Ireland. The girls go against their strict catholic school teachers to talk dirty in the school halls. It's comedy gold for us silly viewers. The newest contender is 'Dating Amber' set in mid-90s Ireland, Eddie (Fionn O'Shea) and Amber (Lola Petticrew) pretend to be in a relationship to stop their school from speculating about their sexuality. It was sure to swing some important issues my way.
Fionn O’Shea shines better in this sweet tale than he does in 'Normal People'. His character reminds me of the toe tapper Billy Elliot at times, as he cycles back and forth to school scared and alone. The two main actors have a real connection on screen, and you feel as an audience member they had real joy making this movie together. The scene where they sneak off to Dublin, drinking booze in bags and giggling on each others shoulders, was simply heart warming. The script was by far the most entertaining aspect of the film, with witty one liners and pauses from the cast; mainly all delivered perfectly from Eddie's innocent younger brother. Amber's character stood out brilliantly. Her courage and independence to stand up for her sexual desires in school is hopefully aspiring for younger lesbians watching. The scenes between Eddie and Amber are unique and sincere that it brings a tear to your eye as you reflect on the beautiful connection of a friendship.
The film left out a lot of information about the characters futures lives. The school days could have been cut down significantly, which became a little tiresome, to make room for their journey as adults. If we were to see where Eddie had ended up after escaping the army, and how Ambers relationship had progressed, it would have given the movie more a back bone. The similarities that the film had with the Netflix series 'Sex Education' was all too distracting, in addition to the parents rather boring on screen relationship.
This film is a corker for some grins and chuckles on the sofa. It tugs at your heart in many moments, and I applaud the director David Freyne for exploring so many important topics in such a short movie. It expresses the hardships of being gay at a young age, and the pressure so many school children feel. It's painful to know that anyone would feel scared to speak out about who they are. Hopefully, being pride month, this film shines a light for younger generations to have courage and stand up for their sexuality in our modern diverse world.