Dopamine [2003]

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Indie flick Dopamine wants to know: Is love a transcendent, spiritual experience, or simply the result of hormones like dopamine (a chemical in the brain that inspires pleasure)? Rand (John Livingston, Where's Marlowe?), a San Francisco computer programmer developing a virtual pet, is convinced it's all neurochemistry--until he meets Sarah (Sabrina Lloyd of the TV show Sliders), a teacher at a pre-school where the pet is being tested. During their nervous, awkward dates, he struggles to maintain his cynical, hormone-driven perspective as his feelings seem increasingly real. The dialogue and ideas in Dopamine are clever, if not exactly convincing; unfortunately, the pace and performances are stiff and morose--the romance feels more predetermined by the filmmakers' schematic plan than by chemistry. Occasional inserts of sped-up film and computer graphics try to offer some respite from close-ups of the actors looking very serious. --Bret Fetzer

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