If there’s one thing you can say about Red Sparrow, it is that it’s violent. And I am 100% here for it. Spoilers below.
Very rarely these days is a spy film able to keep you confused as to whose side the main character is on. While I did want Lawrence’s character to be on Russia’s side and may have been blind to a lot of nuance as a result, I truly did not see the ending coming despite this.
The first scene sets up what’s coming your way with Lawerence violently breaking her leg, and ending her ballet career, in a move that had my movie companion loudly exclaiming in horror. For those of you who like ballet outside of film you’ll be quick to recognise her ballet partner as the talented Sergei Polunin whose part, while small, is memorable.
There are a number of characters all coming into play here with Matthias Schoenaerts deserving an honourable mention, and Joel Edgerton playing the male lead whose performance feels almost lacklustre compared to the talent around him, but to the surprise of noone – Lawrence carries the show as Dominika Egorova. A friend of mine asked if Lawerence was ‘playing herself’ yet again and, while her acting chops can’t be doubted, you are very aware that you’re watching her play a character.
Overall the film is a decent watch and while it’s definitely using a male gaze, the argument can be made that this adds to the storyline of the main character being controlled and used as a honeypot by the men in power. It’s an interesting dynamic between what you see on screen and how it’s been filmed, but I wouldn’t recommend seeing this one with your parents due to the sheer number of sexually charged scenes.
The lack of female input behind the camera can be felt sharply. No more so that when Lawrence’s character attempts to go from mousy brunette to full blonde. At home. With one box of dye. Her flatmate is doing it with no gloves. It’s the quiet kind of ignorance I can’t expect anyone other than a man who has never dyed their hair to have, and something someone at some point should have addressed before the final cut. In a film about espionage, and with plot points that are at times taking pretty big liberties, it is the thing that is the most jarringly incorrect.
For this alone I can’t consider scoring it over 3/5, but in all honesty that feels pretty accurate for the film as a whole.