20th Rendez-Vous French Film Festival – Sarah préfère la course

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Sarah seems devoid of any passion except when she is running. 

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in the Canadian Film Review

Sophie Desmarais, who plays one of Gaby Gagnon’s daughters in Le Demantèlement, stars as Sarah Lepage in Sarah préfère la course. The title translates to “Sarah prefers to run” and it couldn’t be truer. It’s as though Sarah doesn’t think there is anything else worth living for, and she is not passionate about anything else. When she is invited to join the track and field team at McGill University, she tells her mother, who is unsupportive of her plan, that she will be moving to Montreal without her help.

 

Antoine Breton (Jean-Sébastien Courchesne), a friend of Sarah’s who works with her at a local restaurant, hears of her plan and says he also wants to move to Montreal. He offers to join forces with her and help her with rent and expenses if they become roommates. On the drive to Montreal, Antoine proposes that they get married in order to take advantage of government bursaries for young married students. At this point in the film it is unclear whether or not Antoine is serious when he says that it is just for the bursaries, but we soon find out his true intentions. Courchesne’s performance is perfectly ambiguous when it has to be and perfectly vulnerable when he finally expresses his feelings to Sarah.

Sarah unfortunately just prefers to run and ends up as a divorcee who is confused about her sexuality and unsure of her future. A mysterious and endearing character, Sarah is a girl of few words with a one track mind who seems to think of nothing but running. There is a great scene where she is being interviewed for the McGill student newspaper and the journalist is trying to get her to talk, but only getting one word or very simple answers. When he tries to make assumptions and read into her answers, such as asking her if she is patriotic because she said she was inspired by seeing Donovan Baily with his Canadian Flag at the Olympics. She replies that, no, she simply meant that it inspired her to run.

It is interesting to see the culture of a university track and field team with the strict coach and team of determined girls, and also the interaction of anglophone and francophone students at a party. The anglophone journalist is made to look like a bit of a fool, but he adds some welcome comic relief.

 

While there is no happy Hollywood ending here, and things are left a bit unresolved, I enjoyed the relationship between Sarah and Antoine. Sophie Desmarais’ performance of Sarah’s character was impressive as she seems devoid of any excitement or passion except when she is running.

 

Director: Chloé Robichaud

Cast: Sophie Desmarais, Jean-Sébastien Courchesne, Hélèene Florent, Micheline Lanctôt, Genevieve Boivin-Roussy, Eve Duranceau

 

Length: 95 minutes

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