Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Cannes 2013: Sarah préfère la course [Sarah Prefers to Run] Review

Director/Writer: Chloé Robichaud
Starring: Sophie Desmarais, Jean-Sébastien Courchesne, Geneviève Boivin-Roussy
Synopsis: Sarah (Desmarais) loves and lives for running. Her dedication earns her a place at a Quebec university’s athletics program and whilst there she starts to learn more about life outside of running (and if anything can draw away from her love/obsession).
Like the long endurance of track running, Sarah préfère la course moves steadily, retraces the same ground, and comes across a few hurdles and bumps along the way. Soft and slow, the film may bore some whilst compelling others. It’s a strong debut from Chloé Robichaud, executed with finesse, though may only affect a select demographic.
Those understanding the toil of sports training will take something from Sarah préfère la course - a reflection of themselves in the obsession and/or passion on display. Sarah, played by the beautiful Sophie Desmarais, thinks of nothing else but running, leading to a film dealing heavily with the pressures of fitness and the secluded social life. Whereas some may understand and feel a biting realization that they limit themselves with a dedication such as running, others (perhaps non-sports types) are allowed studies of character and motivations to ponder over critically. You are either for Sarah’s love of running or against her close-mindedness; in either case there are plenty of themes and messages to mull over.
Heavily accented on females, the audience for the film is relatively limited. It in no means men cannot enjoy or relate to the events of the film, but there are certain notions cemented in femininity. Robichaud has a strong female voice, and an eye for the finer, and more erotic representations of women. With all this she is still able to capture the male ego, too. Jean-Sébastien Courchesne is wonderful as Sarah’s flatmate who has an ill-advised crush on the girl he’s living with. A scene of awkward emotion between the two is so believable as Robichaud captures the atmosphere to a tee.
Under the surface a lesbian or bi-curious theme lingers, never being completely assessed yet adding a lot to the silent moments where Robichaud leaves it to the audience to find meaning and sensation. The major themes of choice and motivation are the staples of the script – one query posed to Sarah about what she’d do without running is not only a great question for the film, but life in general. Thus, Sarah préfère la course generates more thought that you may have expected. It may be a mediocre story, pressed to fill its feature runtime or find a wide audience, though it’s helped by some intelligent musings on young life.
Sarah préfère la course was competing in Un Certain Regard Selection at Cannes 2013. Also posted on LiveForFilms

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