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6 Mar

Haute Review: Red Sparrow

Red Sparrow

Something Haute rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars

Since the end of Cold War between US and Russia, if there are a few fool-proof ideas of making a successful propagandist film in Hollywood, it almost always includes spies and sex at its center. Trying to pull on those same clichés is also Jennifer Lawrence’s latest film, Red Sparrow.

Directed by Francis Lawrence, the spy-thriller revolves around a Russian ballerina, Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence), whose leg injury has ended her career and she’s left with no choice but to work for her uncle in the Government so she can take care of her sick mother. Not clichéd at all, right?

Things keep moving in twists with the plot, and soon the serpentine plot comes to a point where a tortured Dominika has a choice to either work with the CIA against her own government and save her mother or be a mole in the story forever.

Working on the traditional three-act structure, Red Sparrow would make you think that the film can actually work. However, the only way someone could consider the narrative to be successful if the thudding, clichéd thriller is looked at as an unintentional comedy. It is loaded with cartoonish Russian accents, inspiration from creaky Cold War Tintin comics, all with an added dash of excruciating torture thrown in for absolutely no reason.

The film is unfortunately clumsy, and while one wishes the acting prowess that we know Jennifer Lawrence holds will be shown – it’s anything but that. The tardiness is apparent from the first scenes, where Lawrence and her body double inelegantly dance at the Bolshoi Ballet and an on-stage accident reveals her violent rage in a revenge display. Yet, soon enough she is inexplicably helpless through all that happens to her!

Based on a bestselling novel by Jason Matthews – a former CIA operative. Red Sparrow is a sad and uninspiring attempt at making a spy film. If anything, it goes to show you even glamourous dresses, exotic locations, and seduction can’t help a trainwreck. Only watch it if you have nothing else running in the cinema.

Shahjehan Saleem

The author is Contributing Editor at Something Haute as well as a professor in the Media Sciences department at SZABIST, Karachi. Socio-cultural theories and geography fill up the rest of his time.