Sundance Review: Dare
Adam Salky’s Dare tells the story of three troubled teens struggling to make it through the extremely dramatic years of high school. The story might at first seem a little conventional, but Dare ventures into some new territory by focusing the plot on a love triangle between two boys and one girl. Ben and Alexa have both been best friends since they were young, but soon the two find a rift in their relationship when they are both interested in Johnny Drake, one of the most popular and attractive guys in the school. Alexa seems eager to grow up, and though she dislikes Johnny at first, she forces herself to become intimate with him and becomes very attached in the process. Ben also becomes very attached to Johnny after a drunken night with him, which threatens to destroy his friendship with Alexa.
I liked that the story was really different from anything I’d seen before. There were lots of funny moments and lots of other moments that felt awkward, such as when Ben is first trying to kiss Johnny. One scene especially where both Ben and Alexa are in bed with Johnny sandwiched between them was very awkward as both of them try to kiss him. The actor who played Johnny did a great job, showing both his angry side and his lonely side. As both Ben and Alexa discover, Johnny is very vulnerable, and by using him, they are only hurting him more.
The music worked well with each of the scenes and really set the tone of the film. The writing was really great, and my biggest complaint with the film was with Ben’s character. Towards the end of the film, he sort of devolves into the “gay” stereotype and only seems to care about hooking up with Johnny again, as he continuously tries to hit on him. It was kind of sad to see a deep character dissolve into a one-note character led only by their hormones. But other than that, Dare was a really great film, with some fresh ideas, and a keen eye for capturing all of those awkward high school moments that at the time seemed so important.