Red Sparrow

I was in a five hours flight to Addis Ababa completely annoyed by the fact that I was going to sleep in Addis for no reason since my final destination was Brazzaville. So I told myself ‘you going to survive this, you gonna watch two movies now then sleep for one hour’. It actually turned out to be a not so bad experience because I saved money and I didn’t have to go to the movies to write this movie review.

I was very impressed with the Ethiopian airline selection of movies, they had box office hits and some classic ones. They basically had every movie that I enjoyed watching in my lifetime and every movie I was dying to watch. So, I chose ‘Red Sparrow’ starring Katniss Everdeen…oops! For some reason I can’t think about Jennifer Lawrence without thinking about her role in the Hunger Games. Hunger Games took me time to like, as a rational person and fiction addict, I had to watch it three times in order to understand and finally become an official fan.

Red Sparrow starts with her in a very sad and dark background taking care of her mom. Her mother is obviously sick or just too old so she needs to be there for her. She is a dancer and even though the movie tries to make it obvious that it’s her passion, it’s hard to tell because she never smiles, she always looks sad and worried about something. Jennifer is portraying a very mature young woman with a strong character that will do anything to keep her integrity and help her mother.

You can tell that she lost a lot of weight for this role, like she went from a kind voluptuous woman to a skinny girl and it makes you wonder why. Before watching the movie, I read the synopsis and it mentioned something about using her body as a weapon and I assumed it was some kind of Milla Jovovich movie where she is used for experiments or her body is so flexible that she can dodge a bullet. Not really…it’s a completely different scenario. In this movie, Jennifer is preparing herself for the biggest moment of her dancing career. On the day of the presentation, while dancing with her partner, she falls and unfortunately breaks her leg. She has to stop dancing for good, ending her career. Days later, her uncle a well-known Russian businessman shows up to comfort her and gives her an important information, pictures of her dance partner with another girl who apparently is also a dancer, having an affair. Basically, the girl wanted to be the star of the show so she asked the guy to intentionally break Jennifer’s leg while performing with her so she could have her time to shine. Seeing their pictures together, she figures everything out and follows them. While they are showering in a bathroom she uses her crutch to aggressively beat them both. The scene makes you wonder: who is this girl? Why so much anger?

You know why I like movies? They make you watch others people’s lives, learn lessons and realise things. I thought about something that my mom used to say that I never really comprehended until I watched this movie. My mom once said that when you do a favour for someone, this person automatically owes you something. She told me that once she had a friend whose daughter didn’t have a place to stay for a temporary period of time because she was away, so my mom took her friend’s daughter in but the mother never said thank you. I told my mom she probably just forgot, she said that she didn’t want to acknowledge that she owed her and saying ‘thank you’ was an evidence that she did.

Back to the movie, she meets her uncle as a way of saying thank you and the uncle asks her for a favour which makes it clear that the only reason he helped her was because he needed her. At first, it doesn’t seem like a big deal but the fact that he needed to do something for her first, you know something bad is going to happen. So the uncle asks her to allure an old mafia guy to a room with her sex appeal…and she is able to do that. While almost raping her, another guy comes and kills the old man. She is terrified by the murder but relieved he didn’t complete the rape, is there such a thing as “half rape”? Just wondering…

So now she witnessed a murder and when you do that, people need to kill you, right? Her uncle makes her choose between dying or going to some kind of training. Basically, she didn’t have an option. She is sent to a ‘school of hoes’ (School of Sparrows). I don’t have another term for it and she actually makes references of it in the movie. It’s a boarding school where young people learn how to use their body sexually as a way of manipulating people, like women having affairs with men for CIA secrets. It’s actually an interesting training, it’s something that we have seen in movies before but for this movie to come up with a specific school for that, wow, that’s clever!

She is asked to perform sexual acts but she refuses it. She is able to make it through without questioning her morality. After being asked to perform a sexual act on a colleague that tried to rape her before, she refuses and she is sent home. You had to see the look on her teacher’s face after she refuses to do it, it’s hilarious, what kind of world is that? Who gets mad at you for not doing something like that? But you need to understand that this whole movie is taking place in Russia and they made Jennifer have some kind of weird Russian accent and I just see Russians as perverts, I don’t know why, is it because of the concept behind Russian porn?

She goes back home, back to her sad scenario with her mom, comforting her. Her uncle sends her to another mission and you wonder why he is giving her so many chances, why not just kill her? Her mother mentioned something about the way her uncle looks at her, which only makes sense later when they kiss at some point in the movie. She is sent to Budapest to get information from an American man and discover a mole in the Russian government. She easily attracts the attention of the American and they start an affair.

In Budapest, she creates a bond with her roommate who also attended the school for hoes. But you can tell that she graduated, basically she did everything she was ordered to do, she wasn’t lucky like Jennifer. Even though they seem to get along, Jennifer is very suspicious of her and goes through her stuff, finding out crucial information about another mission. When her uncle comes to check up on her and her improvement she discloses the information found by her roommate as her own achievement, which makes us question her character. She used her roommate’s information to keep herself safe from her uncle since (by now you can tell) he is dangerous. Later, her roommate is killed as a sign, telling her that her uncle knows her every move and how evil he can be if someone tries to fool him.

It’s clear that Jennifer will do anything to survive and nothing to compromise her morals so when she starts an affair with the American man you can tell she is not doing it for the mission but rather because she fell in love. Let’s say she becomes a double agent. One day while they are spending the night together, they are trapped by the Russians and she is forced to torture her lover. Somehow, they manage to escape but he is severely injured. Seeing that she turned her back on her Russian mission order she gains protection from the Americans. She finds out who the mole is but chooses to protect him and somehow, she frames her uncle as the mole to hand him to the Americans and get rid of him. I am not sure if I understood this movie lol because there was a lot of autocracies and spy shenanigans…but I kinda liked it.

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