Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dare to see DARE: Adam Salky/David Brind's film is a one-of-a kind winner

One of a kind? Sure enough.  Though DARE may remind you of movies such as Threesome, What Goes Up and others that explore teenage (and post) sexuality, this one by director Adam Salky (below, left) and screenwriter David Brind (below, right) is different enough to qualify for "original" status.  Its characters, as typical as central casting types, upon a closer look reveal some-
thing quite different.  The kids are believ-
able, too: funny, moving, sad & real.

The film offers title cards for each of its three main characters: Alexa (played very well by a surprisingly young-looking Emmy Rossum -- top, right, in the poster and below, right ), Ben (the sweet and hunky Ashley Springer -- bottom, left) and Johnny (the terrific Zach Gilford top, left, in the poster and below, left), whose character keeps opening up into infinity).  We see these people both as they see themselves, and as others in the film see them.  This is not such an easy task, but the filmmakers pull it off with aplomb, and this, more than anything, gives their film its unique quality and allows us to understand the sometimes unusual approach to sexuality and sexual preference that blossoms.

Gay, straight, and the area between is given its due, and the moment-to-moment trajectory that the sexuality takes is very believable -- as are the psychological underpinnings of the characters' needs, particularly those of Johnny.  The scene between him and his therapist (a fine Sandra Berhnard) is very well done. The supporting cast in general -- Rooney Mara (bottom, center), Ana Gasteyer and Alan Cumming -- is well chosen and delivers all that might be wished.  Not only sexuality, but the acting process, friendship and family are given their due

Making its DVD debut this week, after a minimal theatrical release last November, Dare might be a noun but more likely is a verbal command.  I would suggest acting on that command and renting it ASAP from Netflix or your video source of choice.  You could do worse, but it's hard to imagine your doing much better. This film's a winner -- if only for its surprising and thoughtful conclusion.

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