Dare (2009)

I write these posts with little thought to spoilers. Beware.

Johnny (Zach Gilford) and Alexa (Emmy Rossum) are two or the three leads in this movie that is yet another standard high school coming of age story...for all of about thirty minutes

Synopsis: Three high school students rattle each other’s cages as they figure out who they’ll be after graduation. I know it sounds like you’ve seen this before, but this shit gets real folks.

Ok, first off, two things about this movie are super pretty – the cinematography and Zach Gilford. I’m not going to lie to you, I totally watched this movie because I recently developed an obsession with Friday Night Lights (thank you the ability to stream Netflix to my TV). Matt Saracen, the awkward, and carrying-the-world-on-his-shoulders quarterback is one of my favorite characters on the show. But if you’re looking for the same wholesome character here, prepare to be slightly shocked. I wouldn’t qualify Dare as super risque or over-sexed or anything…but it’s not pulling a whole lot of punches either.

So this movie is pretty to watch. It’s drenched in color and sets up really interesting contrasts between warm and cool colors throughout the film. But the story, and particularly the narrative style through which it’s told make it the most interesting movie I’ve seen about high school students in a good long while. We spend about a third of the movie with each of our main characters, Alexa (the preview identifies her as “the good girl), Ben (“the best friend” played by Ashley Springer) and Johnny (“the bad boy”). And by the end of the movie you realize that all three of these characters are too self-involved (and this isn’t really a critique, I think it may be an inevitable part of being in high school) to see the very different perspectives of their two counterparts.

We start with Alexa and end with Johnny, and so initially I found myself “taking sides with” Johnny. But the more you think about it – and if you’re at all like me, this is a movie you’ll be thinking about – Johnny is misinterpreting and, in a way, trying to take advantage of Alexa and Ben just as much as they are doing the same to him.

This film is actually based on a short (of the same title) that is solely about Ben and Johnny. Which may be why I find Alexa the least interesting character of the three of them.

I appreciate a movie that doesn’t try to answer all of it’s questions. And I appreciate a movie that gives me more layers to characters as we go along, such that by the end of the movie, I feel compelled to re-watch the beginning to find new meaning in the interactions that had seemed so typical when the movie began. I found myself a little less satisfied with Alexa’s section of the movie by the end. It’s interesting for a standard high school flick, but we get so much more depth from Ben and then Johnny (and this is part of the way the narrative builds, so I can’t really think of a better way to handle it), that Alexa’s struggle to not be a good girl seems a little pat by the end.

Takeaway quote: (Johnny’s very young step mother offers him one of her unidentified prescription pills even though he tells her he’s not having a panic attack right now) It’s preventative. I might not be around later.

P.S. It was actually hard to find a takeaway quote from this movie. This isn’t to say it’s not good dialogue. It’s just, everything is in people’s faces more than their words.

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One Response to Dare (2009)

  1. Brett Ryan says:

    So many good quotes in this movie!!!!!
    Courtney (Rooney Mara): “I guess that’s what happens when you discover the power of a dick.”
    Ben (Ashley Springer): “I had my first kiss tonight. I also gave my first blowjob.”

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