In the film, Lawrence's character is told that even as a ballerina, she was only really dancing for powerful men with unpleasant appetites.
"Red Sparrow" is now playing in theaters nationwide.
In modern-day Russian Federation, prima ballerina Dominika Egorova (Lawrence) has her career sabotaged by rival dancers when they conspire to break her leg during a performance. We can't help but giggle at her candour. Who is Dominika? What motivates her?
I suspect, one of the other reasons Dominika isn't entirely compelling is that she was written by Justin Haythe and brought to life by Francis Lawrence, both of which are men. A sexy patriot if you will.
She's sent off on a mission to meet and seduce Joel Edgerton's Central Intelligence Agency operative Nate Nash (a name straight out of 1980s blockbuster), but because he's American he's obviously a much nicer sort of secret agent, and things get emotionally complicated. Though I do have to say, I would have rather seen Scarlett Johansson than Jennifer Lawrence in a Russian spy movie, Marvel or not. I guess it was Lawrence's turn.
Unfortunately, it seems the movie is more focused on exploiting and objectifying her body in order to get butts in seats, and it's disheartening to see Lawrence ride along with this idea. Their relationship is constantly changing because they're constantly balancing this inherent trust that they both have in each other with the basic paranoia that goes with living in a life of worldwide espionage. She didn't give them control, but merely let them think they had it. Even when she seems more stone faced, her facial expression changes through her eyes in a way that one can nearly tell what she is feeling, whether it is anger, fear or pain. No look into how these events that occur are affecting her mentally; no scene where Dominika has any sense of freedom.
I fear the real answer to this is quite dark. We've seen the disgusting treatment of the young girls in the program, the nightmarish sexual subjugation that goes with it (sterilizing) and the unflinching violence of the Widows that graduate the program (see: Agent Carter's Dottie Underwood).
Rich and titillating subject matter (Female abuse and empowerment as told through an espionage story) that offers the sort of potential action and twists viewers love. There were some unnecessary scenes that could have been replaced with character development. Is she an agent or a double agent or just a woman who wants money to support her mom?
Are we expected to believe that male sparrows don't feel any violation of their sexual autonomy and it's just the women who end up traumatized like Marta, Dominika's sparrow roommate? This is not her choice. That's an indisputable foundation for a movie to build on - one that Red Sparrow never had. She beats a former ballet partner viciously (with her cane), dominates others sexually and smokes. Both were ballerinas, both were trained by the Russian state to be spies and assassins in special programs - the Sparrow program and the Red Room respectively - and both turned against Russia. But really, this is a paper-thin excuse to leer at Lawrence whether she's swanning around in low-cut gowns and skimpy bathing suits, or screaming naked and in terror.
"Have you come to commiserate, Uncle?" says ballet star Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence).
I honestly do not see myself referring this movie to anyone; just save your money for Spring Break.
While in the build-up to its release many were making comparisons between Red Sparrow and the Black Widow solo film in the works at Marvel, a more realistic comparison is between Red Sparrow and last year's Atomic Blonde. So it's really pulling back the curtain on a lot of factors that go into espionage that I personally never knew about.