Red Sparrow | Sunday Observer

Red Sparrow

The 2018 film Red Sparrow is directed by Francis Lawrence and the screenplay is by Justin Haythe. The film is based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Jason Matthews. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence as Dominika Egorova, Joel Edgerton as Nate Nash, Matthias Schoenaerts as Ivan Vladimirovich Egorov (Uncle Vanya), Ciarán Hinds as Colonel Zakharov, Charlotte Rampling as Matron, Jeremy Irons as General Vladimir Andreievich Korchnoi and Mary-Louise Parker as Stephanie Boucher.

The film begins in contemporary Moscow, Russia with the Bolshoi Ballet’s prima ballerina Dominika Egorova’s performance which is juxtaposed with CIA officer Nate Nash’s meeting with a Russian mole in Gorky Park. In an apparent accident while performing Dominika breaks her leg, and Nash and the mole are almost caught by police and Nash reveals his identity in order to protect the mole and subsequently leaves Russia. Dominika who is fatherless can never dance again after her leg injury and she has no other means of earning an income, and her treacherous Uncle Vanya (her father’s younger brother) who is deputy director of the Russian intelligence agency takes advantage of her vulnerable situation and sexually exploits her and has her raped by a filthy businessman Dimitry Ustinov whom he arranges to be murdered during the encounter. Uncle Vanya has hidden sexual desires for his niece Dominika and has been obsessed with her since she was a child. After having Dominika raped by Ustinov, Uncle Vanya threatens to have her murdered unless she becomes a prostitute for his government.

Uncle Vanya sends Dominka against her will to State School 4 for Sparrows which is a whore school run by a despicable woman called the matron and where she is taught to seduce in order to get information. Dominika is then sent to Budapest where Nash has been re-assigned, to seduce him and find out the name of the Russian mole. Dominika’s Russian boss in Budapest is a cad Maxim Volontov who makes unwanted sexual advances which she rejects because she finds him disgusting and repulsive.

Dominika and Nash become friends and lovers and Dominika agrees to be a double agent. In Budapest, Dominika lives in the same apartment building with another sparrow Marta Yelenova who is getting information from Stephanie Boucher, the Chief of Staff of an American Senator. Dominika takes Marta’s place at the meeting with Boucher and takes instructions from the CIA. Boucher who is being watched by both American and Russian agents meets with an accident on the street and is killed. The Russian agents who were watching Boucher suspect that something is wrong and Dominika and Volontov are ordered to return to Moscow immediately.

In Moscow, Dominika is tortured on the orders of Uncle Vanya to make her confess that she gave Boucher to the Americans, but Dominika endures the torture and repeatedly denies the accusation. Dominika is sent back to Nash in Budapest to seduce him and find out the identity of the mole. Nash is attacked and tortured by a Russian agent Matorin who wants to find out the name of the mole. The mole visits Dominika in hospital and reveals his identity to her and asks her to continue his work, and Dominika takes revenge on her sadistic Uncle Vanya. The Red Sparrow is a compelling film because of its real life parallels and because of Jennifer Lawrence’s brilliant performance as Dominika, a strong yet vulnerable young woman who is abused and exploited by her uncle and takes her revenge. Lawrence portrays Dominika with the smouldering intensity of a wronged woman whose reasons for defiance, defection, rage and revenge are deeply personal.