Written and directed by David Freyne, Dating Amber is one of the few coming-of-age films that stay true to the genre. Think Sex Education in the 1990s.

Set in rural Kildare, Ireland in 1995, this story highlights homophobic abuse, confusion about sexuality and gender identity, friendship, and self-acceptance over and above the terror that we call being a teenager in high school. Dating Amber is a great example of going above and beyond simply to fit in, whether it’s at home or with your peers.

Cast – Eddie (Fionn O’Shea) comes off as emotionally unavailable given how he shows a lack of emotions most times, but watching him come to life around Amber (Lola Petticrew) and at the bar shows you the impact his father has had on him. Watching Amber embrace her sexuality and grow into her own person was so beautiful to watch.

Storyline – This comedy-drama follows Eddie struggling with following his father’s footsteps into the army by training daily even though he’s physically unable to be who his father wants him to be. At school, Eddie is secretly crushing on one of his male teachers but refuses to accept this to himself. Amber, on the other hand is more comfortable with being gay but isn’t ready to come out of the closet yet. She’s tired of the homophobic abuse and asks Eddie who she knows is gay, if he’d like to be her beard companion. What follows is a sad but heartwarming story of friendship and self-acceptance while being surrounded by homophobia from their peers.

Watch the trailer here!

What I liked – Dating Amber shows you the struggles of a queer teenager without overdoing any aspect of it. It’s just so organic, nothing feels forced in Eddie and Amber’s confusion about their gender or when they’re curious about being different. Their parallel journeys with their identity while growing up in Kildare, shows us that coming out of the closet isn’t the same experience for everyone and it can’t be a one-size-fits-all narrative. I love that this movie was about one’s journey into self-discovery and acceptance and how hard it must be to come out of the closet to yourself, let alone the world.

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