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‘Dating Amber’ refreshing take on fears of being different, being judged, coming out


Dating Amber (originally titled Beards) is an Irish dramedy directed by David Freyne. The 92-minute film features two closeted teens in 1990s Ireland who decide to fake a straight relationship in order to fit in. It will be screened by the Bonita International Film Festival on Saturday, May 22 at 12:30 p.m.

The film explores what it was like to be a gay teenager in Ireland in the mid-90s. While the movie is most relatable to the LGBT community, it captures the feelings many have during adolescence – the feeling of being different, the fear of being judged. The comedy follows Eddie (Fionn O’Shea), a closeted gay teen training for a cadet exam to join the army and follow in his father’s footsteps. After homophobic taunting from his small town classmates leads to a disastrous attempt at proving his heterosexuality, Eddie is approached by Amber (Lola Petticrew), a fellow closeted outcast who is also tired of being tormented at school. Through it all, Director David Freyne does a great job in bringing the social trials and tribulations of teenagers living in rural Ireland to the screen.

“Petticrew and O’Shea are the standouts that carry this film, making Amber and Eddie more than just versions of recognizable archetypes,” observes Los Angeles Times Digital Editor Tracy Brown. “O’Shea, in particular, has the difficult task of preserving Eddie’s humanity even as he lashes out in pent-up self-loathing to keep the audience’s sympathies on his side. Not all of the ancillary characters and their stories are fully developed in the film’s quick 92 minutes, but “Dating Amber” convincingly channels the angst and awkwardness that can be a part of teenagers’ struggles with their identity.”

“[The film is] an honest, refreshing take on the travails of coming out … Moreover, it showcases the considerable talents of O’Shea and Petticrew beautifully, underscoring that both are names to keep an eye on for the future, along with Freyne himself,” writes Leslie Felperin for The Hollywood Reporter. “[Freyne’s] nimbly written screenplay keeps time perfectly with the obligatory beats for a good coming-of-age story. What’s more, Freyne draws out fizzy, gutsy performances from his two leads, who have a genuine, charming chemistry. The authenticity of their performances is perhaps slightly out of tune with the broad caricatures on display elsewhere, such as the mean classmates, but it’s ultimately forgivable given how winning the film is overall.”

Joining O’Shea and Petticrew in the cast are Sharon Horgan as Hannah, Barry Ward as Ian, Simone Kirby as Jill, Evan O’Connor as Jack, Ian O’Reilly as Kev, Emma Willis as Traceym Anastasia Blake as Janet, Lauryn Canny as Sarah, Shaun Dunne as Cian and Adam Carolan as Geoff.

The film was released on Prime Video UK on June 4, 2020 with a theatrical release intended to come later the same year that was ultimately cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

May 17, 2021.

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