Dating Amber – A Film Review by Tina Day

Dating Amber A film review By Tina Day

Dating Amber is a modern coming-of-age film directed by David Freyne and set in a small town in Ireland. Eddie (Fionn O’Shea) and Amber (Lola Petticrew) are two teens in their final year of Catholic school who tire of being called names by the other students. This is a familiar scene that takes place over and over in schools everywhere. If you aren’t dating someone, then you must be gay. But in this particular case, Eddie and Amber are gay.

The themes found in most adolescent movies are here, but with a bit of a different take. You have the awkwardness, the wanting to fit in, the struggle with becoming an adult and finding your sexuality. Usually these are things that are discussed, and agonized over with pretty much all the other kids at school. But, imagine being gay and not really having dozens of other kids to commiserate with. This is the situation in which Eddie finds himself. Add on top of that the fact that his dad is in the military and is expecting Eddie to sign-up once he finishes his final year of high school and you can understand that things are turned up a notch.

After witnessing Eddie get teased and called names at school, Amber decides that they can both help each other out. She follows him home, and after hitting him with a rock knocking him off his bike, says she’ll go out with him. Since they are both getting teased at school, she figures they can shut the kids up by “dating” each other. On their first date, you can see how uncomfortable they are while listening to the sounds of the other teens making out in the movie theatre.

Even though they are both in the closet, they are at different places in their journey. Amber has embraced the fact that she’s a lesbian and is saving up to move to London after graduation so she can be herself. Eddie repeatedly denies that he’s gay and is unable to fully admit it, even to himself. In addition to coming to terms with their sexuality, Amber and Eddie are also dealing with other complications. Amber has recently lost her father and is still angry with him, and Eddie’s parents are having marital issues.

During the time that Eddie and Amber are dating, they actually become very good friends. One day, they decide to skip school and take the train to Dublin. They have a great time during their day in Dublin. As they are walking down the street at the end of the day, Eddie spots a gay bar and decides to go in. He immediately feels comfortable, like he belongs there. In a bit of a reversal, Amber denies that she’s gay when approached by a young woman named Sarah and says she’s there with her boyfriend. Sarah hands Amber a flyer for an event at a club the next week and says she’ll be there if Amber is interested.

While Eddie is still in denial, Amber decides to come out to her mom. Her mom seems to be a bit in shock, but then reaches out and takes Amber’s hand. Emboldened by her mother’s acceptance, Amber decides to meet Sarah and asks Eddie to go with her. While Amber is in another room getting to know Sarah better, Eddie starts to feel more comfortable in his skin. When a boy grabs him and starts kissing him, he eventually starts to enjoy it, until he see someone he knows.

Then he freaks out, pushes the boy to the ground and leaves the club. When Amber comes out of the club, Eddie is visibly shaken, and asks her where she was. Despite being hurt, this is a turning point for Eddie, because from that point on it gets harder for him to deny who he is. Atfer that incident, things start to change between Eddie and Amber. Eddie is still upset with Amber for not being with him in the club and struggling with his new feelings. They eventually break up just before the end of the school year. Just before Eddie goes off to start his military career, Amber shows up and tells him that he shouldn’t go because that’s not who he is. Eddie tells her she’s wrong. Amber hands Eddie the money that she’s been saving up to go to London and says that he should take it and go away to live his life.

Reluctantly, Eddie takes the money and at the end of the film goes off in a bus to his new life. This is a very sweet film about two people who don’t have anything in common, but become best friends and each others’ support system at a critical point in their lives. Although Eddie and Amber both started this journey from different places, by the end of the film, they have both evolved into truer versions of themselves and are ready to take on the next chapter in their lives.“Dating Amber” is available to buy or rent on-demand on iTunes, FandangoNow, Google Play, and Samuel Goldwyn Films.


A Conversation With Lola Petticrew by Tina Day

TD: This film is set in the 1990’s. What kind of research, if any, did you do into that decade prior to shooting the film?
LP: I’m not sure it was research as much as it was me and Dave and Fionn sort of just, you know, we pinged Pintrest boards back and forth and we weren’t much focused on the 90’s aspect of it because that was sort of in the script and you know that would be seen. I think we were more focused on how that era might influence the character’s actions and I think that what we found that was really interesting is that it’s not too dissimilar from if it was set now.

TD: How would you describe the evolution of Eddie and Amber’s relationship?
LP: So I think they go from two people that they experience entirely different things. I don’t think that they necessarily like a lot of the same things, but I think that their hearts and souls are very much kindred. And I think that the friendship that sort of blooms-you know they very much fall head over heels platonically in love with each other. Although it’s not a romantic relationship, I think that they’re very much soul mates. And I think that they’re, you know, definitely the person for each other that they need at that time, at that point in their journey. You know sometimes people come in and out of your life and I always believe that they’re there at that time for a reason, and I think that’s what Eddie and Amber are to each other. You know their support system and their a catalyst for growth.

TD: Yeah, I think that definitely comes out in the film. What do you think contributed to Amber’s acceptance of her sexuality versus Eddie’s?
LP: I think that Amber from the outset is accepting of her own sexuality, you know, she knows that she’s gay. I think that she’s happy to be gay. I think that she sees a life being an out, gay woman, but I don’t think that she sees that in Ireland, which is why she’s biding her time to go to London. I think that in that way she’s different from Eddie who’s completely repressed it. I think that the more she sees Eddie repress it, and try to buy into the thought, the more it sort of spurs her to say her life and tell people and to eventually come out.

TD: The next question I have is more along the lines of the world we are living in today. How do you feel about Dating Amber being a Digital/On Demand release versus the standard theatrical release?
LP: I think in a way it is actually quite good for a film like this because a lot of the audience are younger and accessing something on your phone and laptop can sometimes be a lot easier. And if people are still struggling with their sexuality or something like that, this is something that you can watch in the privacy of your bedroom and I think that is makes the film, maybe a lot more accessible.

TD: At this point in your career, what would you consider your “dream role”?
LP: My dream role? I’m not sure that I have a singular role; I’m not sure that I think of it that way. I think that I just seem incredibly lucky to be working especially in today’s climate. I think that as long as something excites me and is different and I think strongly about it, that’s kind of what I look for. And if I get to keep working on things like that, I’ll be the happiest woman in the world.

TD: That’s a great answer. What would you say your favorite role so far has been?
LP: Oh, I mean for sure Amber has the most special place in my heart. I mean, I met my best friend by being a part of this project and I met Dave and I got to play something that was very close to my heart and something I feel very strongly about. And something that I think is a very special project, so I would say Amber definitely has a soft spot in my heart. And something that I think is a very special project, so I would say Amber definitely has a soft spot in my heart.

TD: At this point in your career, what would you consider your “dream role”?
LP: My dream role? I’m not sure that I have a singular role; I’m not sure that I think of it that way. I think that I just seem incredibly lucky to be working especially in today’s climate. I think that as long as something excites me and is different and I think strongly about it, that’s kind of what I look for. And if I get to keep working on things like that, I’ll be the happiest woman in the world.

TD: That’s a great answer. What would you say your favorite role so far has been?
LP: Oh, I mean for sure Amber has the most special place in my heart. I mean, I met my best friend by being a part of this project and I met Dave and I got to play something that was very close to my heart and something I feel very strongly about. And something that I think is a very special project, so I would say Amber definitely has a soft spot in my heart.

TD: I could see that. Watching it, it seemed like it was a role you could really kind of get into, like there’s so many dimensions I think to Amber. That it would be a really fun role, I would think.
LP: Yeah, and that’s definitely all Dave he’s given us the most incredible script and wonderful direction. I love him, I’d work with him forever if I could.

TD: Just out of curiosity, when did you guys film the movie? It was pre-Covid probably?
LP: Yeah, we filmed it in Summer of 2019.

TD: So a different climate than it is right now.
LP: Yeah it feels like a completely different world, doesn’t it?

TD: Yes completely. Have you done any filming since March, or so, this year?
LP: Yeah, Fionn and I actually were lucky enough to get to get the chance to work together on a film in August and September, so yeah we were incredibly lucky to be able to do that.

TD: And how was that experience? I’m sure there was a lot of extra protocol and safety around it.
LP: Oh yeah definitely. Yeah I think that precautions were there for a reason and we were all there for a common goals and we all loved the film and really wanted to make it so everybody sort of rolled their sleeves up and everybody was willing to do whatever they could so that we could continue to make the film.

TD: OK well, I want to give a little time, I’m sure you are just doing back to back interviews all day today, so I’ll give you some time to take a break, maybe grab some water.
LP: Thank you so much.

TD: No worries. Take care.
LP: Take care, thank you so much.

 


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