Love Me If You Dare

Ever since Fran├žois Truffaut's Jules and Jim, there's been this weird thing in French cinema where suicide is depicted as a quirky and romantic end to an amour fou - "mad love" - story. It's been a common shtick in Gallic hits from Betty Blue to The Hairdresser's Husband, and it's always bugged me. It's an invented psychology, a state of mind that exists only in French movies. It has no ring of emotional truth.

This gimmick is once again worked over in Love Me if You Dare, a slick but weak comedy-drama about two unhappy brats, a girl and a boy, who embark upon a lifelong game of dare, based on who is in possession of the little carousel-shaped tin box that was given to the boy by his dying mother.

The dares are always wicked, starting off simple (urinating in the principal's office, releasing the emergency brake on a school bus) and becoming progressively more cruel and dangerous as these star-crossed lovers grow older. But it's a slight idea, enough to sustain a 10-minute short but not a full-length feature. Any sense of story, character, theme, or point of view is subservient to this insistent high concept, and its repetition grows stale once it's established that the movie isn't about anything other than these two unrealistic people devoting their entire lives to a game.

Though his work is visually stylish, director Yann Samuell lacks the fresh ideas of someone like Jean-Pierre Jeunet. His generic lead actors fail to charm, and the classic song "La Vie en Rose" is so annoyingly overplayed that halfway through the film I decided I never wanted to hear it again. Ever.