Reuniting for the first time since The Hunger Games, Jennifer Lawrence stars in this spy thriller directed by Francis Lawrence. Red Sparrow’s are Russian spies that are trained at State School 4 to deceive and seduce their targets.
Jennifer plays Dominika Egorova, a brilliant ballerina in the Bolshoi Ballet Company, who lives with her disabled mother played by Joely Richardson. Her career is cut short when her dance partner steps on her leg during her performance in front of powerful diplomats.
During her recovery, Dominika’s sleazy uncle, Yvan offers her a way to help pay her mother’s medical bills; seduce a powerful diplomat so they can steal information from his phone.
Events take a wrong turn and after witnessing a horrific act of violence, Yvan gives Katerina a choice, become a Sparrow or die thinking about her mother wasting away in a state funded nursing home. While this is happening we are introduced to Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton), an American intelligence agent who has a double agent working for him in the highest ranks of the Russian government.
Several reviews of the film carry a slightly sharp the tag line, Jennifer Lawrence learns to pick locks. The Guardian’s review takes aim at the theme of the erotically charged drama where it states “The tone is relentlessly bleak, and for all its depraved sexuality the film’s gaze is more drooling teenage boy than genuinely adult or erotic. It’s not that the entire project is redundant … The problem is that the role doesn’t showcase any of Lawrence’s gifts as an actor. The tenacity and fiery wit that have come to define her don’t fit within the confines of this bloodless, oddly blank character … it busies itself with the grim surface pleasures of ogling its central character as she is degraded in every way possible.”
One of the things that distracts from the story is the choice of well-known actors portraying Russians. Jeremy Irons is British but here he plays a Russian General with a British accent rolling his r’s. Rampling is British. Schoenaerts is Belgian, Richardson is British. Edgerton is Australian. Hinds is, of course, Irish. As Paul Whitington’s acknowledges in the Irish Independent, “There are hardly any actual Russians in Red Sparrow, just big name international actors throwing the kitchen sink at Slavic accents thicker than borscht. Mispronounced ‘W’s ping around like bullets and hardly anybody ever smiles because those Ruskies never do, you know. Francis Lawrence’s film is hammy and grandiose, and has delusions of geopolitical relevance, but is considerably less awful than I thought it was going to be, and strangely entertaining.”
My thoughts? I think I agree with them. But go see for yourself. Red Sparrow is in cinemas now.
See the trailer here.
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