Love's not very much of a drug in 'Dopamine'

Dopamine, so we're told, is the natural pleasure drug produced by our bodies when we fall in love. "Dopamine," in contrast, is a movie about a computer animator named Rand (John Livingston) and a kindergarten teacher named Sarah (Sabrina Lloyd) who fall in love. And while the latter does indeed provide a few sweet moments, it's far too low-key to be a pleasure trip, drugged or otherwise.

Writer/director Mark Decena, who wrote the screenplay with Timothy Breitbach, is the first filmmaker to go all the way through the Sundance Institute process, starting with the institute's famed screenwriter labs, to a premiere at the January film festival to a 10-city release with the Sundance Film Series. But it's hard to see exactly why this film got that honor; while there's nothing terribly wrong with it, there's not much that's memorable either. "Dopamine" slips through the memory like flour through a sieve, leaving little residue behind.

Movie review

"Dopamine," with John Livingston, Sabrina Lloyd, Bruno Campos, Rueben Grundy, William Windom, Nicole Wilder. Directed by Mark Decena, from a screenplay by Decenaand Timothy Breitbach. 84 minutes. Rated R for language, sexuality and brief drug use. Uptown.
The story is framed by a touching subplot: Rand's mother is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's, spending her days staring vaguely at nothing, and her son's gentle treatment of her in the late scenes gives the movie some depth, as does Sarah's late revelation of a sad secret. But the dialogue, for the most part, has a flatness to it, and the film rests uneasily somewhere between comedy and drama.

And the grayish, pale fuzziness of the film, shot on high-definition video, has a scruffy elegance but contributes to the movie's sketchy feel. We can't quite feel invested in Rand and Sarah's romance, because we never quite know them.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or