Feeling a letdown instead of a rush

October 10, 2003|By Jan Stuart | Jan Stuart,NEWSDAY

Dopamine refers to the chemical in our bodies that enables us to feel the rush of pleasure when we fall in love. It is one of the buzzwords in the debate at the crux of Mark Decena's debut film: Is love some magical frisson exchanged by two people, or is it the product of a neurochemical reaction in the brain?

Rand (John Livingston) has had the scientific alternative drilled into his head by his father. He goes at romance like he does everything else, analytically. A computer animator by trade, he has also been distracted by the creation of a voice-activated bird named Koy Koy which he hopes will be the next big thing in learning tools.

Inevitably, Rand will be yanked out of his nerd's rigidity by the right woman, Sarah (Sabrina Lloyd), a teacher testing Koy Koy on her class. Their romance will go through, in turn, a false start, a courtship, a mutual confession in which they each reveal vulnerabilities, a misunderstanding, a brief separation and an 11th-hour reunion in which Rand expresses his love in a cute and disarming way.

If that sounds schematic, it is. One never ceases to be amazed at how emerging independent filmmakers are able to deploy state-of-the-art techniques on the same old slop.

Should you be in the market for a Friday night make-out movie that compliments you on your worldliness, Dopamine would fill the bill. So would a Travel Channel tour of Capri.

Newsday is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

Dopamine

Starring John Livingston and Sabrina Lloyd

Directed by Mark Decena

Rated R (language, sexuality, brief drug use)

Released by Sundance Film Series

Time 84 minutes

Sun Score **

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