They say imitation is the best form of flattery. And in the case, This Thing with Sarah borrows many tricks from films such as (500) Days of Summer, Friends with Benefits, and No Strings Attached. As similar as the premise of each of these movies may be, This Thing with Sarah does an adequate job at approaching the subject matter with fresh eyes.
Premiering at the San Diego Film Festival, as Michael Doneger’s feature length debut as writer-director, This Thing with Sarah benefits the most from the dialogue and likable cast. The tale is as old as time – boy gets dumped by girl, boy’s friend suggest he plays the field, boy meets girl, the two clash when things become too emotional, etc. – but thanks to solid chemistry between Devin (Michael Doneger) and Sarah (Amanda Brooks), TTWS is very lively and is never bogged down by the predictability of the story.
And although this movie also takes place in Los Angeles like the aforementioned big studio films, TTWS is more grounded in reality, as much as you can be living in LA. The relationship between Sarah and Devin comes off as genuine and you begin to root for the two as a couple as the movie progresses. The only thing I felt could have been a little more fleshed out are Sarah’s feelings towards Devin. Aside from that, the relationship these two create is honest.
I’m a really big fan of Devin’s BFF Ethan (Wes Chatham), an up-and-coming actor who got his big break in a Twilight-like franchise and brings home a new slam piece each night. Chatham isn’t over the top when it comes to being the goofy sidekick, he has great comedic timing and a really good energy to counter Devin’s gloomy attitude toward dating. Again, this comes down to good writing and natural chemistry between the actors. The only downside to the script would have to be the voice over monologue at the end. By the time you see everything Devin goes through, it comes off as unnecessary. It’s telling and not showing you.
The most off-putting element of this movie is the cinematography. It’s very dimly lit, ugly, and looks very amateurish. I can understand how independent this feature is, but some of the blocking and shots were not visually appealing. The color palette is very washed out, but luckily the acting makes up for the lack of vibrancy seen on screen.
This Thing with Sarah does very little differently from the standpoint of an FWB film thematically, but it does, however, succeed in creating an enjoyable story to endure for its short run time. Thanks to the cast, the writing, and direction, This Thing with Sarah has a lot of fun moments that don’t feel stale due to the familiar territory.
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This Thing with Sarah was written and directed by Michael Donegar, with a run time of 80 minutes. The film has not been rated.