Story: Sara (Charlene Choi) gets raped by her stepfather. Her mother isn't taking any action. Because of that Sara can't bear being at
home anymore and runs away. Living on the street and without having graduated she barely has a future ahead of her. By chance she gets into a conversation
with Kam Ho-Yin (Simon Yam) who is fishing at a bridge. He encourages her, telling her that it's not too late to graduate and offers her his help. Sara accepts.
For the financial support Kam gives her she offers him sexual services. Thanks to Kam she is admitted at a school without any problems since he is a high-ranking
official in the educational system. For Sara Kam isn't merely a "sugar daddy", though. She actually has feelings for him. Yet, she is aware that no one can
know about their relationship.
Years later Sara is a journalist, but one of her best articles isn't published by the newspaper she works for. In order to take a break she goes to Thailand where she gets to know prostitute Dok-My (Sunadcha Tadrabiab). She buys her for a night since she wants to protect her from a few Westerners and realizes that she recognizes herself in the girl.
Review: "Sara" is a drama in which actress Charlene Choi is allowed to show her best acting performance while also taking on a role where
she isn't typecast. There is no doubt, this drama wants to illuminate complex characters and for most part it also accomplishes this. However, an
unfocused approach, which can't be overlooked, tarnishes the positive impression you get, especially towards the end, until you - when the credits are rolling -
can't even actually tell what the director's intention was. Because there are in fact several topics that are touched upon, but are never fully thought out.
The relationship between the two protagonists is shed only little light on as well, but surprisingly here this works out pretty good.
If you look at the movie's title you have to assume that this Hong Kong drama probably revolves around the life of a woman, who at first was dealt a bad hand
in life, has left home because of being raped by her stepfahter and accordingly hasn't any real higher education. But she gets a second chance in life thanks
to a sugar daddy. However, is it really just sex which she trades for college and an appartment? The relationship between Ho-Yin and Sara is merely sketched,
but just at the right spots. It's not simply prostitution, feelings are also part of the affair as becomes pretty apparent in an argument. Ho-Yin actually
doesn't seem to be the type for this kind of relationship, but in the end he still cheats on his wife for years. Whether Sara's preference of older men is
the result of her raping or not is one of the many questions that remain unanswered, though.
It is a good thing, as already said, that the relationship in "Sara" isn't illuminated in every detail. The things which aren't spoken of remain empty spaces
that have to be filled by yourself and that's nice. In the end, we also get to know if we were right so that there shouldn't be any disappointment in this
respect. It is a different affair, though, when it comes to the rest of the film. We watch the life of the protagonist unfold over a term of 15 years and
accompany her during important stations in life. No one will question that these stations are reasons for Sara to deal with herself and go on a trip for
self-discovery. The complex emotions the screenplay tries to create are constantly present and give weight to the drama. But unfortunately they don't gear into
each other. Sometimes the different subjects just aimlessly buzz around in the film. A stronger red thread running through the movie would have been
A good example is the story of Dok-my and the Thai sex tourism, which in some respects is supposed to reflect Sara's life and her inner feelings. After all, the trip to Thailand isn't grounded well in the rest of the story. This becomes especially apparent during the film's last third when we once again visit Dok-my. The problem is that you can see what kind of story director Herman Yau ("The Legend is Born: Ip Man", "On the Edge") actually intended to present and his pictures are strong enough to convey it. Sadly, he also seems a bit overambitious and in the end loses track of what he wants to put into the audience's focus the most. Thus, you often wonder what exactly the drama's message is supposed to be - because there certainly is one.
Charlene Choi ("The Sorcerer and the White Snake", "Triple Tap") luckily carries the movie even during those scenes in which you otherwise would have been lost a bit. She delivers a finely nuanced performance and does so very subtly, so that even those scenes that easily could have looked cheesy still can be taken serious. Her sex scenes are also a bit more daring than what you are used to. As expected, Simon Yam ("Two Thumbs Up") is an enrichment for the movie. So if Dok-my's story with its socio-critical undertone would have been integrated into the movie a little bit more appropriately and if a few questions had been answered more satisfyingly - Sara's monologues in which she explains a lot that you also could have derived from the situation aren't meant here - "Sara" could have been a very nice drama. It still is one of the better ones out of Hong Kong, but the movie would have had what it takes to be more, which is why you remain somewhat dissatisfied in the end.