RED SPARROW On the upside, at least it’s not mother!

Red Sparrow is about a beautiful woman who was trained to become a spy/killing machine for the Russian government. Due to the obvious similarities, it’s been compared to the Black Widow movie that audiences have yet been given—but don’t believe that for a second. Marvel movies are fun. Red Sparrow is not.

Jennifer Lawrence stars as Dominika, a Russian ballerina with a thick accent and even thicker bangs. After suffering a career-ending injury, she must become a spy—rather, a sparrow—to care for her ailing mother. Unlike actual sparrows, these sparrows are sexy as hell, and their mission, should they choose to accept it, is to seduce everything within kissing distance, then shake down their marks for secrets. While this sounds super fun, it’s not, because it doesn’t seem like Dominika wants to accept her mission at all. In fact, she only becomes a spy after being the victim of extensive sexual violence. Whether this is to endear her to us as our heroine (which is gross), or just to shock and titillate the audience (also gross) doesn’t matter. It’s miserable to watch, and I hated it.

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Because I hated Red Sparrow, I never wanted to follow all of its twists and turns and double-crossings—I mostly just wanted it to be over. And J. Law, who I like, was way too J. Law to work in this. I couldn’t fall into the movie enough to ignore her hair and accent, and I just kept thinking about how women shouldn’t have to be raked over coals to be found compelling.

If you need a grisly film about a Russian femme fatale, I guess this could do it—but if you’re looking for something to scratch your Black Widow itch, you’re going to be very disappointed. And I realize it’s not fair to say that Red Sparrow sucks because it’s no Black Widow. To be clear: Red Sparrow sucks on its own merit.

SLAY Film Fest
In person at the Clinton St. Theater 10/29 & 10/30