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It's the final semester before graduating from high school, and aspiring actress and good girl Alexa (Emmy Rossum), her outcast gay best friend Ben (Ashley Springer), and loner bad boy Johnny (Zach Gilford), go outside their comfort zones, and throw caution to the wind as they venture into unfamiliar young adult sexual grounds. A bumpy ride of high emotion, betrayal, heartbreak, and sexual experimentation. Written by
You can try and play all mature and worldly, but you're not. You're still the same scared, pathetic, perfect little girl.
And you're still the same bitter, lonely loser who can't stand to see me have a life because you've never had one.
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'Dare' is pretty much what you'd expect from a low-budget indie film: Lazy direction and pretentious storytelling. The standards for indie films are pretty low and this movie is one of those movies that does nothing to change that.
Every character pits him or herself into the perfect mold of dramatic archetypes (minor roles included). The female lead, Alexa, played by a modest Emmy Rossum, is your typical high school overachiever who breaks out of her shell after a moment of foreseeable clarity. Playing a character that's easy to hate, Emmy works well with the distasteful card she was dealt. Ashley Springer's character Ben, however, doesn't get the benefit of the doubt. The unyielding character is completely unlikable throughout the whole movie and he falls victim to being portrayed by an inconsistent actor. Johnny Drake, the biggest cliché of film history, is the only likable character. Zach Gilford shows range in his acting abilities by breaking away from his awkward roles to play the "bad boy" with a heart of gold.
Everything about this movie reeks of presumptuous "raw" perspectives of teen life and sexuality. Unfortunately, the unapologetic principle that drives the plot forward isn't enough to save it from the dull progression, simple dialogue and contradictory character development. The writer, David Brind, gives me the impression that he wrote this script overnight with help from a 13 year old companion of his.
The film is directed by Adam Salky, who's lack of any relevant experience is evident. The atmosphere of the film is nonexistent. The characters had might as well been in subspace. Salky does absolutely nothing to build an environment for the viewers. Mid-shots are as close as we get to a setting. The worst part is that the movie tries to feed off that false feeling of genuine temperance with its weary direction. It didn't work.
I do, however, applaud Brind for having the courage to portray sexuality in ways that mainstream writers are scared to (even in today's more open-minded society). Unfortunately, all applauds come to an abrupt pause as the credits roll. The ending is yet another "profound" attempt at open-endings. Don't get me wrong. I don't always need everything wrapped together with a pretty little bow but there's only so many gaps that a viewer should fill on his own, don't ya think?
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