The Reel Review
Frustrated at being bullied by their schoolmates, Eddie and Amber, a couple of queer teens living in the suburbs of 1995 Dublin, Ireland, agree to temporarily pretend to be a straight couple in an attempt to throw off suspicion, in this coming-of-age, LGBTQ+ dramedy.
The chief problem with Dating Amber is that it is just… adequate. Writer/director David Freyne doesn’t really tell us anything new, nor is the writing particularly funny or even poignant. Fionn O’Shea (Normal People) and Lola Petticrew (She Said) are the two bright spots in the film – clearly having chemistry as the unlikely couple, at least until Petticrew’s Amber meets a girl during one of the duo’s secret outings to a gay bar in Dublin. Sharon Horgan (Catastrophe, Game Night), Barry Ward and Simone Kirby (His Dark Materials) round out the cast as the two young people’s skeptical parents.
Despite some hilariously ridiculous and dated Catholic videos on sex and dating, the story collapses in the film’s second half, feeling forced and phony, as the well-intended but forgettable film sputters to a predictable ending about friendship that is as dull as its title. As LGBTQ+ films go, Dating Amber is fine, but there are other similar-themed films that are way more compelling.
• Filmed in the summer of 2019 in County Kildare and Dublin, Ireland, Dating Amber received eight 2021 IFTA nominations, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor (O’Shea) and Actress (Petticrew), with Sharon Horgan and Barry Ward winning IFTAs for Best Supporting Actress and Actor.
• Lola Petticrew and Fionn O’Shea became such good friends through the audition and filming that they ended up isolating together during the COVID-19 pandemic.
• The film is set in 1995, two years after Ireland decriminalized homosexuality.