Sarah Prefers to Run (London Film Festival 2013)
Chloé Robichaud certain makes a debut with an accurate title, but also too accurate in advertising its limitations. 20-year-old Sarah (Sophie Desmarais) does indeed enjoy running, whether around her neighbourhood, on the track, or on a running machine with her teammates. From what she is running, it’s not entirely clear.
Running is turning into an overused motif, with one very pertinent example being Robin Wright in House of Cards; her jogging figure turns into an hammered-in metaphor by the fifth episode. Sarah Prefers to Run doesn’t go much further – Sarah’s competitive races noticeably takes place on a circular track.
The bittersweet coming-of-age story does have its merits, particularly a delicate performance by Desmarais as a timid woman who somehow finds herself rushed into a marriage (with the first response being, “Do you mind if I take off my ring?”) Robichaud is also pensive with shots solemnly framed, often with an evocative score for added momentum.
One defining scene involves Sarah’s new husband (Jean-Sébastien Courchesne) sobbing, rhetorically asking why he’s in love with a tomboy who doesn’t smile and isn’t funny. That simultaneously picks at the film’s root problem: many scenes hang on an inexpressive runner, whose defining feature is a literally defective heart. When the Kubrick-style closing credits appear, the gulf in ambition is evident.
Sarah Prefers to Run is part of the London Film Festival’s “First Feature Competition” strand. Screening information can be found here..
96 mins approx