starring Guillaume Canet, Marion Cotillard, Thibault Verhaeghe, Joséphine Lebas-Joly
screenplay by Jacky Cukier & Yann Samuell
directed by Yann Samuell
starring Julieta Cardinali, Carmen Maura, Jean Pierre Noher, Mex Urtizberea
written and directed by Alejandro Agresti
by Walter Chaw Former animator Yann Samuell's Love Me If You Dare (Jeux d'enfants) is painfully, dedicatedly unwatchable. It's vile and perverse in a puerile way that bears no discernable fruit. For a romantic comedy, it's conspicuously lacking in romance and comedy, and for a dark, satirical look at the Hobbesian baseness of human love and nature, it's astonishingly childish. The picture is the equivalent of a little boy eating a worm to impress the little girl he has a crush on: a tireless series of schoolyard transgressions portrayed in the whip-pan jack-in-the-box way of Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Amélie that shares with that film a strong thread of misanthropic mischief, but reveals itself the classless poseur in its constant keening for attention. Love Me If You Dare is so awful that its constant "hip" references to George Lucas films not only somehow make Kevin Smith seem current again, but also suggest of all things a rom-com directed by the clown-prince of Skywalker Ranch himself. There's an idea gnawing in my head that the reason this picture was so popular in France has something to do with a failure to translate the satirical dimensions of a film that succeeds so spectacularly in alienating its audience, yet, like Roberto Benigni's Pinocchio (the Italian version of which Jonathan Rosenbaum proclaimed one of the best films of 2002), whatever's happened in transit has handily transformed any rewarding subtext into a rising din.