Hirokazu Kore-eda, France, 2019
Who is Sarah??!
Someone from the past, a clearly significant figure in the relationship between mother (Deneuve) and daughter (Binoche) and mentioned often as they pick apart ‘the truth’ of their lives. She wore a Twiggy-style mini-dress with collar and was a promising actress – the new upcoming star reminds everyone of her. But Nicola and I weren’t sure whether she was friend or relation, whether her death was an accident or suicide…
As the characters in the film switched between French and English, and the Spanish subtitles moved on to the next line before I’d properly had time to digest what was said, my little brain got a touch confused now and then. At times, I felt like Ethan Hawke’s non-French speaking American, who was happily letting it all wash over him, playing with the kids and letting the wine do the talking. At other times, I tuned in to the right frequency and even managed to understand the French! Being multilingual is bonkers.
It was probably a good thing to have this constant linguistic challenge to hold my attention, to be honest. The film is gentle, occasionally touching, a little bit sentimental. We’re exploring mother–daughter relationships, as well as ageing/changing times/career twilights. It’s nice enough, well made, the performers are great, but I don’t think it’ll last long in my memory.
So who, exactly, was Sarah? I’m not sure it matters.