“…being no particular expert in linguistics and dialects myself, the Russian-infused spoken English within Frances Lawrence’s Red Sparrow, does at least get a tentative pass from me.” – Wayward Wolf.
Francis Lawrence’s Red Sparrow affords Hollywood’s golden girl, Jennifer Lawrence, another good opportunity to demonstrate her considerable talents in films of a more serious nature. Those with keen memories will realise that this is a revival of the Lawrence / Lawrence partnership which was ultimately so successful through their work together in the Hunger Games franchise.
Whilst Jennifer Lawrence understandably remains a massive box office draw, and thus a staple of many a huge grossing popcorn flick, the last couple of years or so has seen a marked maturity not only in her choice of role, but in the performances that these roles have consequently produced.
In my own very humble opinion, of course.
Coming on the back of both David O. Russell’s 2015 outing, Joy, and Darren Aronofsky’s breathtaking thriller, Mother, Red Sparrow sees Lawrence portraying a famous ballerina turned Russian Intelligence operative.
On sustaining a career-ending injury, Dominika Egorova (Lawrence), is given no choice by her rather shady uncle but to enrol into ‘Sparrow School’, very much against her own volition. Here she will learn how to use her body and femininity to devastating effect in the pursuit of acquiring classified secrets and information for her country.
But Red Sparrow – based upon the novel of the same name by Jason Matthews – is by no means a straight forward piece, offering a very involved twisting narrative, and frequently wrong-footing us as it goes.
It’s a tense tale of espionage, surveillance, counter-surveillance and double agents, and for a high budget mainstream release, it has to be said, it’s surprisingly gruesome fare.
Amidst all of the cut-throat cloak and dagger skullduggery, Lawrence positively excels as the seductive femme fatale, tasked with targeting C.I.A agent, Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton), with whom she soon finds herself romantically involved, further muddying the film’s already narratively murky waters.
Kowtowing somewhat to the mainstream, most Russian-spoken dialogue is offered in English with a whole variety of takes on what constitutes this at times most brooding of accents. This has, by all accounts, been a bone of contention for many, but being no particular expert in linguistics and dialects myself, the Russian-infused spoken English within Frances Lawrence’s Red Sparrow, does at least get a tentative pass from me.
Certainly there were no moments of teeth-clenching, toe-curling cringe-worthiness that I was ever really aware of.
And I’m sure Mr Lawrence will sleep easy with that news.
Considering the genre, it’s safe to say that this is not a film of the calibre of some of the classic spy thrillers of yesteryear. Red Sparrow perhaps has most in common with the James Bond classic, From Russia with Love, only far more gritty in its realisation. But without doubt, it makes for an at times revivifying experience, not least because of the refreshingly female-centric angle that it takes on this oft-visited genre.
Possibly not a film that will live exceptionally long in the memory, but with a twist in its tail, Red Sparrow definitely achieves what it sets out to do, and gets a lot more right than wrong in the process.
An at times dark, but always entertaining thriller.