What makes Dating Amber stand out from the crowd? Like most good movies, it’s the story and performances. Starting with the acting, Fionn O’Shea and Lola Petticrew are perfect casting choices for Eddie and Amber. O’Shea plays Eddie as meek and unsure of himself in everything. I felt every moment of uncertainty and the constant shifting in coming to grips with his identity, along with the moments of bliss he feels when allowed to succumb to his desires.
As Amber, Petticrew takes a different angle. Amber has already accepted herself as a lesbian, and her singular goal in life is to graduate and get out of town. She hides her identity (more refuses to confirm her identity to those who don’t need to know) to fly under the radar. Amber is clearly the smartest one in the room and is perpetually engaging in a battle of wits with her less-than-worthy classmates, always coming out on top. She just needs to keep it together until graduation.
“I felt every moment of uncertainty and the constant shifting in coming to grips with his identity…”
Regarding the story, though the basic structure is fairly familiar, writer/director David Freyne makes the most of each story element, whether it’s to induce a laugh or break your heart. When Eddie and Amber go on a “date” to an underground nightclub, Eddie’s encounter with a drag queen on stage becomes the most touching moment in the film. Freyne also plays off Eddie and Amber’s opposing personality types, perfectly moving back and forth between friends and frenemies.
Also, as it is set in the 90s, Eddie and Amber must navigate through the hypersexualized world of teenagers where mere innuendo has evolved to the blatant use of sexual slang. And the usage of gay slurs is seen as a badge of honor. It’s not quite the teen sex comedies of the 80s.
It might be easy to write off Dating Amber as yet another “coming out” film, but what it ultimately is is just plain ol’ good storytelling.
"…not quite the teen sex comedies of the 80s."