About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Friday, October 19, 2018

The Movie Red Sparrow

The Red Sparrow movie is a rare prediction come true for me. After reading the book by Jason Matthews in 2013 I wrote in my review that I thought Hollywood would be interested in the movie and earlier this year the movie was released. Regrettably I find more flaws than merit in the movie.

I thought Hollywood actresses would be eager to play Dominka Egorova. Jennifer Lawrence was chosen for the role. She has the beauty described in the book. I was disappointed by her almost stoic portrayal. In the book Dominka is passionate, reckless at times. For much of the movie I found Lawrence passive.

I understand the challenge of portraying her experiences at Sparrow School. The training in sexual techniques and seductive intrigues is soul destroying. It was no surprise that the movie softened Sparrow School. It was uncomfortable to read the details of Sparrow education. The Dominka of the book and movie had to suppress emotion to survive the School.

After Sparrow School the Dominka of the book was far more vital than the Dominka of the movie. A powerfully dramatic woman was not upon the screen.

I believe Lawrence’s character development was limited by the constraints of a 2 hour 20 minute movie. The complex plot of the book, Red Sparrow, would have been better developed in a mini-series in the way John Le Carre’s book, The Night Manager, was turned into a vivid and compelling English mini-series.

The whole movie had a choppy quality. Plot lines could barely progress before it was on to the next scene.

A vital part of the book was the tension involving an existing mole America had recruited in Russian intelligence. There was no time to explore the role and importance of the mole in the movie.

As in the book Dominka and Nathaniel Nash become lovers in the movie. However, the movie format compressed the relationship. Moving from professional adversaries to lovers was so abrupt.

There is pulsing passion in the book between Dominka and Nathaniel in the book. I did not see chemistry between Lawrence and Joel Edgerton in the movie. Chemistry is unpredictable between actors and I did not feel the spark between the stars.

It would have been fascinating in the movie to see Dominka utilize her powers as a synaesthete. In the book she sees auras about the heads of everyone she meets that reflect their personalities and integrity. I am sure with modern special effects halos or auras could have been created.

I wondered if President Putin would have been a character in the movie. In the book and subsequent books of the trilogy he has been an important character. I have written of my surprise that he is named and described so negatively in the books. As Hollywood is more risk averse than book publishers Putin is not a character in Red Sparrow.

I thought the book was halfway between a thriller and a gritty espionage story. The movie is definitely a thriller.

I was surprised by the ending. It was Hollywood and better than the ending of the book.

Overall, I would not recommend spending money to watch the movie.

On whether there will be a trilogy of movies there was an interview of the director of Red Sparrow in Metro:

       Clearly Francis Lawrence is a fan of these follow-up books. 
       Because during my recent discussion with the director he
       admitted that he is interested in doing a sequel to "Red 
       Sparrow" based on either "Palace of Treason" or "The 
       Kremlin's Candidate".

As to the likelihood of more movies in the trilogy, on The Rotten Tomatoes website about half of the critics and half of the audience liked Red Sparrow. It is faint praise to be barely passing. Most important the movie cost $69 million to make and grossed about $164 million in worldwide sales.

I wish there would be a sequel just to see how Putin would be portrayed. It would be hard, though not impossible for Hollywood, to delete him from the plot of Palace of Treason.

I will be surprised if Palace of Treason becomes a movie.
Matthews, Jason - (2013) - Red Sparrow and Recipes and Menus in Spy Thrillers; (2015) - Palace of Treason and Vladimir Putin in Spy Fiction and Libel (Part I and Part II and Part III); (2018) - The Kremlin's Candidate


  1. I'm sorry to hear you didn't like the film better than you did, Bill. I have to say, though, that I'm not surprised. When a book has a complex plot, it's hard, as you say, to portray it with the right depth and interest in one 2-hour film. I've had that experience with other films I've seen. Hmm....no, I think I'll leave this one alone.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I think you will be glad you spend your viewing time watching another movie.

  2. Interesting Bill - I always enjoy a detailed comparison between a film and book, even if I haven't seen/read either.

    1. Moira: Thanks for the comment. More sex and violence in book and movie than interesting clothes.

  3. I still haven't decided if I want to see this movie or not. My husband and I usually like thrillers (on film) but I had heard that this one featured too much sex and violence (for me). The same for the book though; I enjoyed reading it but still too much violence and sex.

    1. TracyK: Thanks for the comment. More sex and violence in the book. I will be surprised if you like the movie but would appreciate your thoughts.