How to Follow Your Heart

​Review of Sarah Prefers to Run at Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival by K. Gibbs

Running is the focus of Sarah’s life, as much a part of it as breathing or sleeping. She cannot imagine life without it and wants to continue running at college in Montreal. But standing in her way is a lack of money and opposition from her mother. As Sarah fights to keep running, Sarah Prefers to Run portrays the struggle of doing what you love, no matter the cost.

When asked why she does track and field, Sarah simply states that she loves to run. It’s that simple. Finding her way to college, though? Not so much. Since her parents don’t have the money to pay for college, Sarah has to come up with another plan. The solution presents itself in her coworker, Antoine, who is also heading to Montreal. In order to get money from the government to help pay for school, the two decide to get married despite the fact that they barely know each other.

Relying heavily on dialogue and emotion rather than action, the script is beautifully written as it shows Sarah just trying to follow her heart. We all have things we want to do in life, and for Sarah that’s running. Sometimes the road to what we want is difficult, and that is definitely the case for Sarah. For the most part, Sarah deals with her struggles in a good way. She moves to a new city, finds herself falling for her female teammate, and then learns that she has heart problems that could impact her ability to run. That is a lot to deal with at one time, and the film does a great job of showing how Sarah powers through it.

But while Sarah’s passion for running is admirable, sometimes she seems a bit too dedicated and narrow-minded. She fights her own battles, but doesn’t seem to see how they involve other people. It becomes clear that Sarah views her marriage to Antoine only as a way to make ends meet, and she doesn’t try to even forge a friendship between them. Antoine tries to become closer to her — and even starts to fall in love with her — but she just pushes him away. Sarah’s lack of effort in their relationship (if it even counts as a relationship) detracts from her overall image, making it seem like she would do anything to run, no matter if it hurts people. The story of her overcoming hurdles to run is an inspiring story, except when other people get hurt along the way.

The end of the movie mostly brings a feeling of closure, but also a desire for more information on what happens to Sarah — how will her heart condition influence her running? How will her feelings for her teammate mature? The development of Sarah’s feelings for her teammate, Zoey, are subtle and do not play a major part in the story — after all, Sarah does prefer to run — but maybe if the movie had continued we would have seen the feelings progress.

Sarah Prefers to Run captures the struggle of anyone who has a goal worth fighting for and delivers it in a way that is both interesting to watch and easy to connect to. Sarah proves to be a complicated protagonist, but her dedication to running serves as inspiration for anyone trying to follow their heart.

Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival
October 9 - 19

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