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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Are You Game? Love Me If You Dare Then!

I chanced upon this movie last year, when I was trying to create for myself this huge collection since I was moving to a new city all by myself. The antisocial Virgo that I am, I decided to have a backup of a decent number of movies because I figured getting to know people would be too taxing for me. So after a particular trying day, which included two video conference calls at work, and being pushed and jostled in the train I needed to do something which would not make me pack up and leave.  I decided to dedicate the rest of the evening to Jeux d'enfants or Love Me If You Dare. 

As I have mentioned in a previous entry, I have been called a snob because I like watching foreign films. Some people just can’t comprehend the fact as to why I would end up ‘reading’ a film. What they don’t understand is that even when I am not ‘reading’ a film, I am actually reading it. 

Love Me If You Dare is a love story. But it is a twisted love story. It revolves around Julien (Guillaume Canet) and Sophie, (Marion Cotillard) best friends since grade school who develop a game of dare and double dare. What started off as childish pranks, soon spill over as dangerous stunts in their adult years. The pact they made as eight year olds revolve around Julien’s tin box that resembles a merry-go-round. The box comes with a dare; whoever gets the box also has to complete the dare, there is no backing away from it. Thus begins the childhood game, and the two form their own private world where they dare each other to perform increasingly ludicrous pranks. This becomes a daily routine, almost like a habit that they can’t do without. However in their adult years, the pranks gather a more dark and dangerous undertone.  The stakes are now exponentially higher; while as 8 year olds a dare would be to crash the wedding cake at the wedding of Sophie’s sister, as an adult Sophie dares Julien to say no at the altar on his wedding day. They are aware of their mutual attraction to each other, but they are too inebriated with the excitement and rush that the game brings along. Partly out of pride and partly out of habit they choose to continue with the game with outrageous dares, instead of confessing their attraction. This becomes another episode of their hypnotic play – incite each other to sleep with other people.

It is their relationship that is most striking. What is their relationship about? Is it love? Or is it simply their mutual enchanting fascination with the game? When the movie flash forwards to them as adults, we see Julien and Sophie having a sleepover, in the same bed, in the exact same positions when they were 8. Have they had sex in the mean time? Do we really need to know that? What we need to know is that they are almost amalgated together, maybe forever in a bond of shared hysteria. They are mortified at the prospect of boredom which is why the dares keep on expediting as they get older. At one point Sophie dares Julien to stay completely out of touch for 10 years. Will that get the game out of their system? It doesn’t seem so, because both are painfully aware about the passage of time. To celebrate the victory of the dare, they take it to the most disturbing level possible, which brings me to the end of the movie. The movie provides alternate endings; it is for those who want a movie with an END. I’d prefer the ending where Julien and Sophie ‘cement’ their love with their beloved tin box rather than the one that falls into the doldrums of predictability. The scene that opens the movie is now attuned with the end; of course it makes no sense whatsoever at the beginning, so sit through the movie patiently and it will all make sense.

I had recommended Love Me IF You Dare to three people; out of them one saw while the other passed on. Well, their loss. And the one who did manage to watch it cribbed because of the ending. Lesson learnt no more recommending movies! 

Julien and Sophie come off as obnoxious and self-involved characters; I hardly seem to think that is the flaw of the plot. That is how it is supposed to be. The characters are so immersed in their hypnotic game, the only goal in their life is to finish the dare and triumph temporarily over the other. Does it matter that in the process they humiliate both themselves and other people? Not to them. Love Me If You Dare takes a fresh take on love and lovers’ pact.

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