58th Cork Film Festival: ‘Sarah Prefers to Run’ & Tony Palmer’s ‘Nocturne’

The 58th Cork Film Festival (9 – 17 November)


Matt Micucci checks out Sarah Prefers to Run and Nocturne, which both screened as part of the 58th Cork Film Festival.


Sarah Prefers to Run (Chloé Robichaud)

Sarah is a 20-year-old girl who loves to run and moves to Montreal to make the big athletics league. Her life outside of running, however, is a little trivial as she constantly alienates herself from her friends and her mother. This is particularly true in the case of her relationship with Antoine, with whom she moves to Montreal and gets married for no other reason than to claim financial incentives.

Sarah Prefers to Run is literally a film about a character who prefers running over everything and in the process becomes a film about giving up on love, life and even happiness to feed into her idea of ethereal happiness. Robichaud is particularly brave in making a number of interesting anti-cinematic choices that in fact go against the traditional representation of human sentiments on the big screen whether it is through Sarah’s own passive nature or the awkward sexual chemistry she shares with Antoine – especially in a particularly uneasy and almost darkly comical sex scene.

Though in the grand vision of the film everything makes sense, Robichaud’s film can’t escape or shake off a feeling of pretentiousness and superficiality which will leave some members of the audience feeling totally cold – as cold, in fact, as Sarah herself seems to be towards human connection.

Sarah Prefers to Run mixes a valid mixture of honesty and metaphor, presented in a Dardenne Brothers’ type of visual realism, presented through an original compelling story and a captivating character study.

Nocturne (Tony Palmer)

Throughout his illustrious career, Tony Palmer has shown a great understanding of music and the musical process in its wider sense. His latest film Nocturne takes a look at the life of one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century, Benjamin Britten, in honour of his hundredth birthday.

Having worked with Britten before, Palmer has clearly formed his idea of the composer’s personality, and what this film stands as is an analysis of any element – domestic, historical, sexual and political – that influenced his masterworks as well as a harrowing examination of his personality. In fact, there is literally nothing missing from this film, whether it is unique artistic representation of his work’s inspiration by juxtaposition of images of the holocaust and Iraq bombings over a performance of his renowned War Requiem, a detailed description of his music’s disciplined ethics by experts and critics and interviews with people who were closest to him. As well as that, it makes use of great archive material from films that show the man at work or his operas staged for television, some of it shot by Palmer himself.

However, there is more. The film’s unhurried pace allows its audience to truly identify with the film and the music with its unhurried pace that urges a kind of meditative interaction. Nocturne, therefore, is an astounding piece of documentary filmmaking that is at once structured and experimental. It is at once biographical and poetic. A truly magnificent experience, and a glorious find by the Cork Film Festival for this year’s edition.


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