Joshua and Beccs are in the car, listening and singing along to music together as they’re on the way to get some takeout. They are really into the music, having a great time together, and clearly enjoy one another’s company.
But then a phone call interrupts their music. The call for Beccs, from a guy named J.J., who she admits is one of her boyfriends. This rubs Joshua the wrong way: even though he has only started dating Beccs, he knows he likes her, and he is a commitment kind of guy. As they talk, Beccs reveals she is polyamorous. The two attempt to understand one another’s views, but the gulf between them might prove too far for either to cross.
Directed by Daniel Daniel, who co-wrote the script with co-star Avigail Tlalim, this short relationship drama is focused, economical and spare in execution, but it’s also a prime example of how far excellent writing and performances can go to portray the tremendous complexity of modern dating and human desire.
Shot as a one-take, the film generates interest not with the push and pull of editing or the dazzle of slick cinematography. Instead, it puts the words and feelings of these two characters front and center, and the confined setting of the car feels almost like being on a “fly on the wall” in this potential couple’s trajectory.
The storytelling takes considerable time at the beginning to see the pair at a point of childlike abandon. The couple takes an almost primal joy in each other’s company, able to be silly and uninhibited with one another. But Beccs has to come clean with Joshua about the other men in her life and, more importantly, about her general stance about relationships.
The film then transitions into the “meat” of the film, as they engage in a discussion on Beccs’s polyamory and Joshua’s more traditional take on relationships. The drive-thru provides an aptly ribald metaphor for Beccs, who explains that she likes to “dip [her] chip in many sauces,” and doesn’t want to miss out on any of her favorites.
The writing is honest, clever and non-judgmental about both sides, and the characters are generous and kind with one another as they attempt to understand their difference, a dynamic that underscores their compatibility and fundamental decency with one another.
The terrific rapport between the actors themselves — Tlalim as Beccs and Michael Workeye as Joshua — gives the film a certain dynamism and musicality, especially as they negotiate the ebbs and flows of the feelings that come up. They vacillate between tension and humor, and by the time Beccs’s phone rings again, she and the viewer are left with questions of whether what she has with Joshua is worth giving up her polyamory, and just what she will do.
With a solid foundation of excellent writing and performance, “Sauce” takes on a modern issue in the contemporary dating landscape, but it’s also about the moment when two people, who adore one another, must confront their intentions for the relationship, and perhaps even about their lives. The dilemma is the abundance of romantic possibilities and adventures that Beccs wants to experience, versus the special bond, solidity and even love that Joshua offers. Just how singular and unique is the freedom and joy she experiences with Joshua and is she willing to risk giving that up? The question hangs in the air for the characters, and will likely haunt Beccs and viewers after the film’s end.