There is no doubt a lot of work went into this French romantic comedy. It has flashy editing, whooshy camerawork, and super whimsy special effects. But “Love Me If You Dare” seems like a product of dare itself. It has one of the most absurd story lines in recent years.

The movie is about daredevils Julien and Sophie. As kids, they have bonded through a game of dares. They goad each other into risky antics, from public urination to wedding ruination. They’re pretty rotten, unruly children. But it is okay; they’re entitled. Because 1) they’re the main characters, 2) they’re really cute, 3) Sophie lives in a low-cost housing and 4) Julien’s mom is dying.

Years later, being a young gent and a young lady, Julien and Sophie (played by Guillaume Canet and Marion Cotillard, respectively) are still up to no good. However, the game is threatened by a growing romance. Or is it the other way around? They’re unable to come clean with their feelings, fearing that love might turn into a game.

Unfortunately, “Love Me If You Dare” is treated like a game. And worse, it invites us to play, only to be played. The filmmakers want us to care about the daring couple, but as the story evolves, it is becoming a challenge to like them. In fact, I grew to loathe them. It felt like I was a target of a mean prank.

To be fair, the film has moments of interest. There are a couple of scenes where their love turns into something sadistic. But it irks me that the film treats this as endearing or magical. Most of the time, the film’s viewpoint is so mentally unsound; the filmmakers need to get their heads examined. They’re not crazy genius; they’re crazy cuckoo.

Look, I am not asking for a reasonable movie, but I’d like to grasp or pin down something. At least, the American ouchfest “Jackass” is straightforward and clear in its purpose. This French film is all over the place and practically toys with just about everything. The story lacks logic. The characters do not solicit empathy, since they function as playthings rather than people. It’s just too bad. The actors are actually good and good-looking in this. Thibault Verhaeghe, who portrays the 8 year-old Julien, is so noogie-adorable. Marion Collard, the future Oscar winner, already exhibits a gruff of spunk that she expertly used in “La Vie en Rose.” So, by the end, I don’t hate the players; I hate the game.

Grade: D

Guillaume Canet, Marion Cotillard, Thibault Verhaeghe, Joséphine Lebas-Joly, Gérard Watkins, Emmanuelle Grönvold, Laëtizia Venezia Tarnowska, and Gilles Lellouche
Screenplay by
Jacky Cukier and Yann Samuell
Directed by
Yann Samuell
Rated R for language and some sexuality