From Love to Healing: “The One for Sarah” Examines Relationships Scarred by Abuse
In the vast expanse of cinematic storytelling, few genres evoke the kind of universal emotional resonance as romantic films. These narratives, often portraying the delicate dance of love, have been both celebrated and criticized for their ability to tap into the depths of human experience. Within the Nigerian film landscape, these tales have found their place, some rising to become cultural landmarks, while others sink into the abyss of forgettable clichés.
A recent entry into this complex milieu is “The One for Sarah,” a film brought to life by Trino Motion Pictures. While its ambition to explore the darker intricacies of relationships, particularly the chilling specter of physical abuse, is commendable, the execution of this aspiration finds itself traversing uneven terrain.
Set within the tapestry of modern Nigeria, “The One for Sarah” endeavors to craft a contemporary narrative centered on Sarah, embodied with grace by the talented Beverly Naya. With an aim to examine the deeply resonant theme of physical abuse embedded within romantic relationships, the film steps into territory that inherently demands attention. Yet, while the premise is undoubtedly captivating, the translation of this premise onto the screen often leaves something to be desired.
The film opens its doors to us with Sarah, a fashion designer. Her life bears the scars of the emotional and physical torment inflicted by her former partner; a character portrayed by Daniel Effiong. This traumatic history casts a long shadow over her present and colors her approach to matters of the heart. It’s within this context that Sarah stumbles into an unexpected love triangle, entangling herself with Fred (Uzor Arukwe) and Michael (Bucci Franklin). This web of relationships becomes a canvas for exploring themes of friendship, healing, and the haunting persistence of past trauma.
The performances within “The One for Sarah” stand as the narrative’s pillars. Beverly Naya, as Sarah, navigates her character’s vulnerability and skepticism with a sensitivity that resonates. Daniel Effiong, a face often associated with the “good guy” roles in previous films, takes a different path as Dare, a character tainted by the poison of misogyny. Their performances, coupled with the chemistry between the characters, succeed in bearing the emotional weight of the story. However, there are instances where this synergy appears slightly skewed, leaving one yearning for more authenticity.
From a technical standpoint, the film presents a landscape of potential yet to be fully embraced. The choreography of camera movements is, at times, orchestrated with finesse. However, the radiance occasionally falters due to suboptimal lighting choices. Sound quality, a crucial yet often overlooked aspect in crafting a cinematic experience, leaves much to be desired, lacking the immersive quality that one would expect. Similarly, the authenticity of the locations and set designs appears to waver, at times failing to organically merge with the narrative’s authenticity.
However, where “The One for Sarah” stumbles most significantly is in the realm of its screenplay. While it endeavors to portray realism, it often stumbles into the territory of implausibility. The dialogues, meant to be the lifeblood of character interactions, frequently carry a contrived and clichéd tone. This dilutes immersion, rendering certain pivotal moments less impactful than intended. Additionally, as the film progresses, the pacing, initially balanced, begins to falter. The elongation of certain scenes, which seem to serve no significant purpose, weighs down the narrative, contributing to a sense of unease within the viewing experience.
Yet, one cannot overlook the cultural influence that occasionally casts a shadow on the film’s authenticity. The overt use of Westernized accents and polished aesthetics stands at odds with the film’s Nigerian setting. This creates moments of discord, distancing the film from the relatability that authentic homegrown cinema often strives for.
Despite these imperfections, “The One for Sarah” holds a commendable stance as a cinematic work unafraid to tackle pressing societal issues head-on. It thrusts issues like abuse, sexism, and the objectification of women into the spotlight, sparking conversations that are increasingly important within contemporary society. Although its execution might not be pristine, its intent contributes to the ongoing evolution of the Nigerian cinematic landscape.
“The One for Sarah” is a film that grapples with profound themes, attempting to cast light upon the enigmatic corners of relationships. While its heart is in the right place, its journey is marked by inconsistent strides.
In the grand tapestry of cinematic storytelling, where the weave of emotions is as intricate as it is unpredictable, “The One for Sarah” emerges as a reminder that even in its flaws, cinema retains the power to evoke introspection, conversation, and, most importantly, change.
Release date: 11 August 2023
Runtime: 1 hour, 36 minutes, 1 second
Streaming platform: Netflix
Director: Lyndsey Esejuku
Cast: Beverly Naya, Bimbo Ademoye, Daniel Etim Effiong, Bucci Franklin, Uzor Arukwue, and Adunni Ade.