Wednesday, March 14, 2018

RED SPARROW: The Lawrences' (Francis and Jennifer) silly-but-fun, professional nonsense

It'll pass the time and, though the first half proves rather slow, it's at least never uninteresting -- filled as it is with sex, sin, ballet, bloodshed and double-agent spies run amok.

RED SPARROW, which casts Jennifer Lawrence in one of her better (certainly one of her showier) roles, is one of those glossy Hollywood entertainments that, except for its R rating, might have starred Lana Turner or Liz Taylor back in the old days, when this sort of silliness was at its cold-war peak.

Francis Lawrence (shown at right) -- who directed from a screenplay adapted by Justin Haythe from a book by Jason Matthews -- has done a better job of it than I would have imagined, given much of his earlier work. Despite the staid pacing, broken by violence every now and then, Lawrence keeps us alert and enjoying the gloss and giddiness of this oh-those-nasty-Russkies tale, as our heroine, Ms Lawrence (below with famous dancer Sergei Polunin), goes from being a "busted" ballerina to first-class sex-worker/spy for her glorious country, all the while caring for her poor, sickly, sainted mother. Oy.
But most of this does prove foolish fun, especially when actors the likes of Jeremy Irons (below, as spy-master-in-chief),

Charlotte Rampling (at right below, as the iron matron who trains these youthful and quite hunky and/or gorgeous spies),

and Matthias Schoenaerts (below) as our heroine's awfully naughty uncle. All three actors are better than their roles deserve, and they help quite handily in bringing the movie home.

The film's romantic interest is played by Joel Edgerton, shown below, who is always a pleasure to see, and here at least gets to use less of the faux-Russian accent employed by the rest of the cast. They do it pretty well and pretty consistently, however, which rather adds to the old-fashioned fun of the film.

I guess it's time -- what with all of Russia's U.S. election meddling and the recent murdering (in Britain) of its own ex-spies -- for the Soviets to become the world's villains once again. So, yes, we can certainly count on Hollywood to go for it full-throttle and deliver the usual goods.

Red Sparrow, from 20th Century Fox and running a lengthy two hours and 20 minutes, opened wide all over the place a couple of weeks ago. Click here to find a theater near you.

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