Sunday, August 25, 2013
Sparrows Dance, written and directed by Noah Buschel, has the thoughtful sensibility of a foreign film - the structure, the coloring and handling of the film felt as if I should be reading subtitles. The protagonist (Marin Ireland) suffers from the panic disorder, agoraphobia. I call her the protagonist, because the character is never named. I'm sure there are other movies with a nameless main character, and if you think of one, please leave a comment, but the only other film that I can think of, is my very favorite - Hitchcock's Rebecca.
So "She" hasn't left her apartment in over a year, we see her on her exercise bike, on her laptop, chain smoking, in the bathroom a lot, and mostly eating take-out while watching old movies on TV. Each shot feels cropped to the viewer. The composition smartly keeps her world small, where she's the focus and you see little elements of her apartment framing her, but you never get a wide scope, until one pivotal scene which pans out like a stage view from the back of a small theater house. I didn't care for that effect, because it took you out of the reality of the movie, and the reality of her disorder is something very relatable to me. I know I seem sorta normal, I interview famous people, cover film festivals and food events, I have friends and family and sorta a half a job right now, but still I know I could become agoraphobic given half a chance. I'm no stranger to panic attacks and the idea of giving up occurs to me way too often. I was even discomfited by the character's nervous mannerism of lifting her chin in quick succession, because if felt like something I might pick up.
A character like this could evoke mocking or pity, but Ireland brings to the role a sense that you are with her in her dilemma/condition. And what's hopeful about this movie is the fact this woman hasn't totally given up. She still cares enough about what other people think of her to pretend to be getting food for more than one person, when ordering from a Chinese restaurant on the phone. And although it's sadly funny when she just puts the money in the hallway for the delivery guy and tells him just to leave the food at the door, she still feels the need to feign laughter and conversation as if she's just too engaged to come to the door at that moment. She cares about a girl being robbed outside her window enough to call 911, and nearly attempts to go help her; and sounds of neighbors making love, rouses her to masturbate.
When she's confronted by having no other option than to allow a plumber into her apartment to fix her overflowing toilet, she even dresses as if she's going to a job. I think it's these signs of life that make it believable that she would be a little open and drawn to this man Wes, the plumber (Paul Sparks) with his awkwardness and strange chatter. Sparks reminds me a bit of Richard Dreyfus in one of my other very favorite movies, The Goodbye Girl.
Sparrows Dance, title taken from the line of a poem Wes quotes to apartment girl, at its heart is a simple love story, with a nice soundtrack, some songs co-written by Paul Sparks.
However, the song it brings to my mind is an old Shirley Bassey number -
And for every woman, a man to love
Where is he, where is the one for me?
LAMB Score: 4 out of 5
Tinsel & Tine NewsI'm in the running for Full Press Access to the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival (April 16-27).
I'll know shortly if I've been approved, but I feel pretty good about it as they sent me the link to apply! And they sent Sparrows Dance to me asking if I'd be interested in screening and reviewing the film.
Of course what this means is I'm going to need a place to stay in New York for a couple of nights and some blogging funds for getting around NYC and I really need an iPad or tablet for immediate reporting on the Tribeca Film Festival screenings, press conferences and events!
If you're a regular reader that knows how important this next step is to me, I'd love some support.
Philly Film Blog