Dating Amber: lovely coming of age & coming out story

Fionn O'Shea and Lola Petticrew in Dating Amber

Dating Amber features two LGBTQ+ high school students in 1995 Ireland. Both were in denial about their sexuality and struggling to survive high school and appear “normal.”

I found Dating Amber to be a beautiful, bittersweet, story about growing up and being true to who you are. Eddie (Fionn O’Shea) was desperate to convince himself and everyone around him that he was straight. He was trying to make it into the military like his father. The kids at school gave him grief because he wasn’t dating a girl.

Amber (Lola Petticrew) had accepted the fact that she was a lesbian, but hadn’t told anyone yet. She was teased in school as well. He father had recently committed suicide. She was saving money to get out of their small town (which was near Dublin) and live in a city where she could find people like herself.

Fionn O'Shea and Lola Petticrew in Dating Amber
You said to wear something girly!

Amber suggested to Eddie that they should pretend to date so everyone would leave them alone. After some hesitation they gave it a try. Eddie invited Amber to dinner to meet the family.

Fionn O'Shea and Lola Petticrew in Dating Amber

They spent so much time together as a pretend couple, they became very good friends. One day they cut school and took the train to Dublin. They stumbled into a gay bar where two significant things happened.

A drag queen sang on the stage. Eddie was enamored. He walked close. Then he climbed on the stage right in the middle of the song. The drag queen said, “Hello, baby gay.” and hugged Eddie for a very long time. It was a beautiful moment of acceptance for him, of safety.

Amber met a girl, Sarah (Lauryn Canny), at the bar who asked her out. At first Amber pretended to be straight to Sarah – old habits are hard to break. But later she went back and found Sarah again.

Lauryn Canny and Lola Petticrew in Dating Amber
Sarah gave Amber a reason to finally come out

Eddie was less ready to admit the truth. His mother (Sharon Horgan) finally realized what was happening, and encouraged Eddie to open up, but he wouldn’t. His father (Barry Ward) was still gung ho about Eddie making it into the military.

The options for life after high school loomed. Would Eddie really join the military? Would Amber head for the big city? Would they move to London together and work for a zine or open a bookstore? Were they brave enough to be themselves?

Dating Amber was written and directed by David Freyne. In an interview at The Queer Review, he said, “It’s pretty autobiographical, it’s not entirely truthful but all the really bad bits are true, all the really embarrassing stuff happened unfortunately!”

I thought this was a beautiful film and encourage you to take a look at it. It’s currently streaming on Prime Video and Tubi.

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