Described as a Romantic Christmas Comedy starring Kris Marshall and Annelise Hesme, Sparks & Embers centres around old flames and lost love.
Tom and Ellie meet up for a final goodbye on London’s picturesque Southbank. They haven’t seen each other for a while and we are not sure why they are meeting up now. Ellie has a new partner but Tom is clearly still in love with her.
The whole film’s storyline focuses on Tom’s attempt to win her over before she gets on a train with her new partner to go and live in Paris. The clock is ticking and, with 45 minutes to go before boarding, Tom is desperate to rekindle the love they once shared, and so they dwell on their past relationship, how they met, the memories they shared.
Naturally, old memories evoke feelings that both have been trying to suppress. But will Tom win his girl back? As a rom com, you kind of know the answer already. But the film’s intention seems to make it as frustrating and as hard as possible.
Overall, Gavin Boyter’s Sparks & Embers is a rollercoaster of flashbacks between two scenes, as we see nothing else but their first and last meeting. We presume they may at some point have been happy together, as they spent 4 years in each other’s company, but we don’t really see that.
I praise the idea of the movie, exploring the end and the beginning of a relationship, delving into how perceptions and feelings change over time.
However, I feel the overall objective is not fully met. I found it very hard to follow and felt that the chemistry between the two characters seemed somewhat off, and not intentionally.
The static lift scene versus the walking along the Southbank works in principle, but dragged over the whole feature film feels way too long. Marshall’s performance as a juvenile, immature thirty-something is coherent all throughout, whereas Hesme’s performance is often inconsistent. We have all experienced at some point a break up and should be familiar with the challenges posed, yet I feel no sympathy or interest for the characters at all.
I enjoyed the setting and the Christmas spirit but as romantic comedies go, I wouldn’t rush to see it again.
Sparks & Embers is out December 18th.
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