Sunday, 16 November 2014


"Can there be a love, which does not make demands on its object?" - Confucius

A French movie for Movie Monday, today: “Jeux D’ Enfants” by Yann Samuell (2003), its English title being “Love me if you Dare”. This is an odd film, but nevertheless one that I watched with great interest and in the end with great satisfaction, as well. If you have seen “Amélie” or “L’ Auberge Espagnole”, then this is film is like them, but nothing like them. It was described on the DVD packaging as a “Romantic Comedy”, but I beg to differ – it’s neither comedy, nor terribly romantic, yet there are scenes in it that make you laugh right out loud and other scenes that remind one of “Romeo and Juliet”…

But what is it about? Julien and Sophie are the hero and heroine of this film, he a typical French boy, and she a “dirty Pollack” as she is called by the other school children. Their friendship begins in childhood where they play a game of dares revolving around handing each other a biscuit tin in the shape of a colourful merry-go-round, only to be claimed if the dare is successfully completed.  The dares become more outrageous and dangerous as the children grow to adolescents and then to adults. Love and sex intrude in unexpected ways and the relationship between Julien and Sophie becomes more complex, more destructive – for themselves as well as for the people around them.

The characters of the film are hardly likeable, and yet they are irresistible in their raw energy and vitality. In them we recognise parts of ourselves that we actively bury deep inside us lest they manifest themselves and destroy us. And yet it these hidden parts of ourselves that drive us and motivate us, and it is these self-destructive forces within us that move some of us to the ultimate love experience that transcends death itself. Both Julien and Sophie are struggling with difficult home situations, and it is their families that force them to seek each other out and find in each other support but also a challenge to deal with their relatives (selfishly, but that is how one preserves oneself!).

The film is tremendously creative, visually rich and full of life and passion. It is an allegory of love, a film that analyses relationships that teeter between love and hate, that balance on the razor’s edge of insecurity, it is about people in love who constantly test each other’s love, that dare each other to prove their love no matter what. The ending itself (although predictable) is not what it seems and it this ending that puts the whole film into perspective in terms of the allegory hat I mentioned earlier.

Guillaume Canet (Julien) and Marion Cotillard (Sophie) are perfectly cast and play superbly under the expert direction of Yann Samuell. The soundtrack is memorable as it includes several renditions of “La Vie en Rose”, which is perfect for the film. Watch it, it's well worth it!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this. I had seen the movie and wanted to recommend to someone but had forgotten its title!