I like this film, so I thought to review The One For Sarah for those who want to discuss it.
I thought it would be one of those snooze fests because Beverly Naya is one of those celebrities who like to make a statement about something whenever she is onscreen. She may be virtue-signalling a little too much (the aspire to perspire vibe), and that is why her acting is self-aware in all of the wrong frequencies. But in The One For Sarah, I learned that even the people who make you cringe will make you cringe less as you grow older. At the end of the day, we are all trying to make something. So, what happened in the movie?
The One Called Sarah gathers a competent cast. We have Beverly Naya, of course, Bimbo Ademoye, the screen favourite, and Adunni Ade serving as the glitzy ladies in the film. Uzor Arukwe, Bucci Franklin, and Daniel Etim Effiong play the male stars. Broda Shaggi is given some screen time, playing a security man who, surprisingly, is central to the plot. As for whether his acting suits the character in the movie, I doubt it. No one has written a script for Broda Shaggi yet. It seems like we do not know what to do with his character when he is put in movies. It has gotten played out already.
The Script and Characters
I could tell that this movie was written. I can only imagine the battles fought on set to keep this film true to Egbemawei Dimiyei Sammy’s script. If I were awarding points, I would award them a bunch for seamlessly translating some of the writing qualities of the script into film. I also appreciate the cast too. Bimbo did what she could with the lines she was given. Uzor was also a stand-out performer. And Effiong’s experience lets him play a convincing villain (although I think it has become natural to him at this point). Watching Adunni Ade, I got the sense that she wanted to do everything the paycheck demanded and leave the set. From another perspective, though, it works out well as her character, Joy, literally has no time for frivolities while she chops life. I have met people like that in real life. They seem transient because everything works out easily for them. Beverly Naya’s performance left much to be desired, but you could tell that she put her soul into it. I think with a few proper acting classes, her acting can only get uphill from there.
Does the movie drive the point home?
Sure, it does. It is a simple story that no one can mess up even if they tried. The script relies on the most commonplace tropes you can find in romantic films. If you are a deep fan of the romantic genre, you would be able to predict how the film ends from the first plot point (I could predict the rest of the movie when Sarah gets the first SMS from ‘Unknown’).
(SPOILERS START HERE)
The message was definitely from an ex who was abusive, and the affirmation of self-worth she had to do every morning already revealed a lack of it.
I would describe this story as a roll of dominoes stacked in a straight line. We just tipped them, and they fell. There were no subplots or threads to tie up. I never thought I would miss inner motivations so much. A girl leaves an abusive relationship and moves to a new place, and while she is trying to continue her life, meet new people, find love again, and grow her business, the ex finds her and starts to trouble her again. But this time, she has a support system that saves her. That’s it. Clean and safe! No risks taken.
A little too safe, if you ask me.
I understand that twisting and turning a story could make a convoluted plot that would require more scenes and, thus, a larger budget. Why complicate a story when you can tell it simply? (The former is an indie filmmaker’s worst nightmare). Just have the viewers get the message that every victim of abuse needs to get away from the reaches of their abuser and have a solid support system gathered around them so that they can heal.
So, what really made this movie a less-than-satisfying watch?
The cast and crew of The One for Sarah played it so safely that some parts of the film were emotionally flat, and thus, one finds the general pace of the story boring. Except for that last fight. That was cool! Maybe a little weird, but it was the most exciting part of the movie. That fight had more chemistry than any of the lovers on screen.
Also, the theatrical poster promised us a battle for the hand of the maiden. But this was more like a documentary on surviving abusive partners. I felt let down because I did not get what I was promised.
If you are going to rely on a safe story, that is fine. I would naturally suggest that anyone directing a safe story should apply the creative pressure left over to building a more robust set (the cast and crew definitely have more style than what we saw), character-based dialogue, and more lively on-screen acting. Of course, all of this is based on having solidly built characters that are hopefully deeper than surface level. A dialogue that cracked, characters that were a little bit more passionate about what they wanted, and a less than over-reliance on miscommunication to drive the plot would have given this movie more life.
My final word is that this film would be far more enjoyable as a novel where we can dive into the minds of the characters because we did not get enough of their vitality on screen. A lack of chemistry always works against a romantic film.
But then we live and learn, and the Efejuku led her crew to what I would call a win.
Stream The One For Sarah on Netflix so we can talk about it.