|> About dopamine
|Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun Times
"The movie has a sweet offhand romantic tone, in which old-fashioned notions of love encounter the alienation of demanding occupations."
|Dianne Bates, freelance writer - Los Angeles Times
"Like a gold nugget in a hailstorm..."
|Mick Lasalle - San Francisco Chronicle
"There's a beauty to this movie, a genuine feeling for the mystery and wonder of love and attraction."
|Mark Caro - Chicago Tribune
"Sabrina Lloyd was charming.."
|Vera Anderson - Hollywood Foreign Press
"Compelling and original."
|Ruthe Stein - San Francisco Chronicle
"San Francisco director Mark Decena distinguished himself at Sundance with his debut feature..."
|Erik Childress - WGN Chicago
"It doesn't take chemicals to love this movie"
|David Keeps - freelance writer - Interview, Glamour UK
"John Livingston works our dopamine."
|Merle Bertrand - Film Threat.com
"Poignant and penetrating."
|Trevor Groth - Sundance Programmer
"Mark Decena laces Dopamine with wit and charm. His assured direction, combined with terrific chemistry between the actors, makes for an outstanding debut by a markedly gifted filmmaker;
|San Francisco Chronicle
4 Bay Area movies to screen at Sundance Gifford-written film also makes the cut
Edward Guthmann, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, December 5, 2002
"We were very much sitting on eggshells, hoping like every other filmmaker that we'd get the call," says Decena, 43, who shot his film largely in trendy, picturesque South Park in the South of Market district. "I got the call the day before Thanksgiving, which made for a very nice holiday."
|San Francisco Chronicle
- Entertainment Section
BEAMING TO SUNDANCE:
Ruthe Stein, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, January 3, 2003
Feature filmmakers from the Bay Area will be represented by one lonely director at this month's Sundance Film Festival. Our standard bearer is San Franciscan Mark Decena, whose "Dopamine" made it into the prestigious dramatic feature film competition. He's in good company -- past competitors include Steven Soderbergh and Rebecca Miller.
Decena's debut film looks at the way physiology determines whom we fall in love with. Dopamine is a brain chemical the body produces when we're overcome by love. But you already knew that.
With his movie in the can, Decena can focus on really important stuff. "I'm trying to find a restaurant for our opening night party in Park City that's not already booked," he told me.
| Rand's (John Livingston) start-up company, Emerge, is
a long time partnership with two good friends, Johnson (Rueben Grundy) and
Winston (Bruno Campos). As the economic climate clamps down, they are forced
by their venture capital investors to "test" their product's synchronicity
with the perceived target market: kids.
That night, drinking in a bar, lamenting their predicament, Rand and Winston meet Sarah (Sabrina Lloyd) for the first time. Even though sparks fly for Rand, it is Winston who makes the alpha dog move. Unbeknownst to Rand, Sarah goes home with Winston for a one-night stand, further complicating the future.
Ironically, it is Sarah's school and classroom that the investors have lined up as the beta testing lab. For Winston, it is a blatant reminder of a bad night. For Rand, it is the opportunity for his attraction to be analyzed, catalogued and evaluated. For Sarah, it is an embarrassing reminder of her actions but the catalyst to all she believes.
As Rand and Sarah begin their own unusual courtship dance, they find their toes continually getting stepped on, but they have an unconscious hope that their own lack of harmony is due only to a poor sense of timing. Rand, in his ever-analytical state decides to create a mate for their animated creation in hopes of understanding his own reservations about love.
Rand's views on love have been formed as he watched the storybook love affair between his Mom and Dad slowly dwindle to nothing because of altered brain chemistry in the form of Alzheimer's. If love was anything more than just a chemical or biological influence, how could it possibly disappear completely?
Sarah's definitions and walls come from a naïve affair when she was younger and has compromised her ability to trust and move on with her life.
Rand and Sarah's empathy for each other opens doors within themselves, but as the relationship culminates, they retreat back to their own stubborn beliefs. When Rand discovers Sarah and Winston's tryst, it is the emotional explosion that brings down the fragile house of cards.
Just when it appeared it couldn't get any worse, Emerge joins the ranks of failed companies, a victim of the plummeting economy with the venture capital investors finally pulling the plug.
Rand, feeling strangely liberated and defenseless, finds himself open to the possibility and opportunities the world has presented. He realizes his view of love is lacking in the only thing that makes love true: believing in it.
Reciprocally, Rand helps Sarah realize that she can't move forward without reconciling her past and facing up to the phantom love she holds unrealistically on a pedestal.
With each other's help, they journey out onto life's thin branch, searching for the answer. The question is, will they find and believe in it together?
* * * * *
|San Francisco has historically been an epicenter of subcultures
in America. With the rise and burst of the dotcom bubble, today is no exception.
While there are those who relish in the fall of the greed driven schemes
of venture capital funding, there did exist a new optimism that technology
would indeed change lives for the better.
Dopamine looks at the complexities of finding love when post-modern angst, fate and personal obsessions conspire against you. Ultimately, it is a reminder that in this era of over communication, over information and over analysis, there is still room for blind faith and maybe even true love.
©2002 Dopamine Productions, LP All Rights Reserved.
All material is protected by copyright laws of the United States in all countries throughout the world. All rights reserved.