Red Sparrow – Review

Jennifer Lawrence is a formidable actress that has been largely associated with her Young Adult roles and questionable controversies of the screen, leading us to forget that she is actually a tour-de-force on the big screen. Though her work lately has polarised people with the space soap opera Passengers and the mind-melting Aronosfky production mother!, she will always meet each role with absolute gusto, charm, and beguiling skill. I mean, one doesn’t simply win an Academy Award at 23, do they?

The highest grossing actress in the world, Jennifer Lawrence has proven time and time again that she is a powerhouse performer. This continues in spy drama Red Sparrow.

Based on a book by Jason Matthews, the film revolves around ballerina Dominika Egorova. When a tragic (and suspicious) accident leaves her with a broken leg and a shattered future, her uncle Ivan Dimitrevich visits for consolation and a proposition: seduce a diplomat and steal  his phone. After the mission ends in death, Ivan manipulates Dominika into joining a spy organisation called the Sparrows where they are trained to sexually exploit American targets. But when Dominika is assigned to follow American CIA operative Nate Nash, she becomes embroiled a more heinous plot…

Whilst her Russian accent takes some getting used to (has she ever wavered from the American one in a movie before? The new tone is initially off-putting,) Lawrence is an astonishing lead actress here. She commands each scene she is in, brewing turbulent emotions that pushes the energy forward, bringing this incomparable intensity to the screen. It’s one that showcases exactly why she is fascinating to watch as Lawrence commands your attention. Alongside her is the ever great Joel Egerton, the refined Jeremy Irons, and superb Matthias Schoenaerts who populate her story as men ready to manipulate her.

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The story weaves within this great script that goes on far too long and there for there are scenes that drag. It also can be tricky to follow exactly what’s going on. However, this is a stripped back (pun unintended but apt,) spy drama thatis more about the brooding, unravelling in a palpable and mysterious way. Director Francis Lawrence films the scenes in an evocative way, capturing the intensity and murkiness against the rich and beautiful elements that make this a gorgeous film to watch.

Perhaps one of the most intriguing elements to Red Sparrow is the sexual components here. It is a hard topic to master within a film and there will certainly be people who’ll find elements tricky or mishandled. The film is about teaching spies to seduce their targets in order to drain information from them – both men and women students – and there is a lot of nudity and sex because of it. There’s even sexual violence which, I still believe is unnecessary here, but the film does curve away from the usual and helps develop Dominika beyond the violence. She has constant strength that is unwavering in the face of the injustices she experiences and the film somewhat turns the sexual politics into her favour.

In this current climate, it is interesting to see these intricate relations and show how both sides are exploiting one another for information. Based on supposed true events, Red Sparrow is a quiet yet powerful film with fantastic performances at the forefront.

Red Sparrow is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now

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