About modern Hollywood cinema it is often said – “the bottom is pierced,” showing that there is nowhere else to fall morally. After the release of “Deadpool”, “50 Shades of Gray” or “Atomic Blonde” it seemed that it was already the bottom. But there is no limit to perfection, as with degradation, which western films regularly prove with rapture. The film “Red Sparrow”, released worldwide on February 28 (in Russia, the premiere was postponed to the end of May) and which, according to the description, seemed just another stupid pile on Russia, managed to show all the worst trends of modern cinema in two hours of screen time.
Dominika Egorova is a Russian ballerina, prima of the Bolshoi Theater. She has a disabled mother in hand, and among her relatives there is only uncle Vanya from the Russian special services. Once a girl gets seriously injured, which is why she is deprived of a career, and she, together with her mother, gets exposed from the apartment by the Bolshoi Theater. Dominica agrees to the offer of her uncle – to help him one time “on business”.
The “job” does not go as Dominika would like, she’s being raped, the rapist is killed by representatives of the Russian special services, and she turns out to be the only witness. There is a choice before her: either die as an extra witness (yes, the Russian special services use slang and bandits’ unwritten rules) or become a “Red Sparrow” – to study in a special Russian division of young scouts, who use their sexuality to achieve goals, and join their ranks. After the training, Dominika is entrusted with an important mission – to seduce and retrieve information from a CIA agent about the “mole” in the Russian special services. CIA agent Nate, in his turn, is trying to recruit a “sparrow”.
Image of Russia
The American film would not be American if Russia was not shown with typical patterns: eternal dankness, snow, evil and cruel people. This time, the authors tried their best, creating an associative peg to the image of Russia of everything that causes disgust or fear.
Famous throughout the world, the Bolshoi Theater and the Russian Ballet are endowed with images of betrayal and suffering: first the guy of the main character together with his mistress substitutes Dominika, because of what she loses her career. After that the Bolshoi Theater takes away housing from two sick women (mother and daughter). In a luxurious Moscow hotel, rape occurs, and during this the offender gets his throat cut.
Separate attention deserves the character of “uncle Vanya” (in the first appearance he was called this way), whose name is associated with the classics of Russian literature, and externally by the efforts of the make-up artists and the actor – with the famous Russian scout and judoka. It is not surprising that this character appears to be a real evil, and Dominika will sentence him to death. Apparently, because of such explicit references, the premiere of the film in Russia was moved away from the date of the presidential election (18.03.2018).
The very selection of the name “Dominika” for the main character is also probably not accidental, because this is an American name that is not popular in Russia at all, and initially does not bear any associations with the person or character.
Separately, the authors went through Russian statehood and Russian medicine. At the 18th minute, “uncle Vanya” tells Dominika: “Have you seen our oncological dispensaries?! Rats in the corridors, patients in their own excrement….” Criticism of the Russian medicine, although partly justified, but when it sounds in a Hollywood’s plot, it becomes clear that the authors of the film are clearly not concerned with the health of Russians, but simply use a hot topic to create the desired emotional effect.
The visual component of the picture also works on the construction of a certain image. All locations in Russian buildings – dark long rooms, mostly gray tones, windows, hung with red heavy curtains, gray clothes (high winter caps, which went out of fashion twenty years ago). In American realities – light rooms, open windows, letting in the sunlight, expensive brands of cars. Relationships in the Russian special services are threats, blackmail, torture, work either out of fear, or out of a desire for power. In American – friendly relations, good-natured “jokes”, work for the “idea.” If a CIA agent fails a mission or reveals himself, he simply gets called “on the carpet” to the authorities, and after he is sent to another place. The given the game away Russian intelligence officer has been tortured for a long time.
That is, the viewer is given a certain attitude at a visual level: Russia is dark, cold, gray, dirty and scary. The US, CIA – light, the atmosphere is human, friendly.
The topic of patriotism is often touched in this context, that evil Russians press on the patriotic feelings of young people to make them do something immoral or humiliating. For example, “uncle Vanya” persuaded Dominika to give herself to the patron with the phrase “You are useful to the state”. The same pressure goes on, at the beginning of the school of learning, Dominika hears: “If you can not serve the state, I will personally shoot you in the head.” When Dominika resists the next rapist, this time to her fellow practitioner, she is reprimanded (42nd minute): “Is your honor worth it to deprive Russia of a valuable cadet?!”
The idea of ”honor most of all” (including life) for centuries has been a part of the cultural code of Russia, preserved in classical literature, and in popular proverbs. But the creators of the film, who had to draw a certain image of Russia, naturally did not care.
Justification of perversions and pornography
Almost twenty minutes of screen time describe the training of a young “sparrow” in a scout-geisha school. Girls and boys are trained in shooting, burglary, hand-to-hand, but most importantly – the psychology of “needs” and sexual techniques, which the authors carefully savor in pornographic scenes, which for ethical reasons in the review are not going to be described.
The task of “sparrows” is to understand what a person wants and be able to give him this. First of all, sexual desires are used. Repeatedly is demonstrated the training of girls in the art of understanding needs, which is presented in a rather peculiar way. For example, the question is: “A man is divorced, because his wife noticed his harassment of her daughter. Later he buys teenage girls. What does he want? “The correct answer was: “He needs a child to take care of”. Thus, pedophilia in the film is justified by “plausible motivation.” And this is another attempt to move the “Overton Window” in this thread. In addition, the film tells about same-sex relationships and incest – as it turned out, Dominika’s uncle from her childhood turns out to be “in love” with her, that the super scout naturally reads, and in one episode also gives what her uncle needs – a kiss.
The main message of the film
The whole plot is built around traitors in the Russian special services, which the Russians unsuccessfully try to figure out, and Americans who want to recruit “sparrow” Dominika. In the finals, the “mole” himself comes to Dominika and offers a deal – she becomes a hero, revealing his name, and then takes the place of the main “mole”, passing to the service of America. Dominika plays the combination, which puts an uncle under attack, protecting from the problems the real traitor. In this way, the happy ending in the film looks like this: in the Russian special services there are already two “moles” on the high account, which betrayed the Motherland for a simple reason – Russia is such a terrible state that rare “good Russians” will happily join America in order to quickly destroy Russia. .
This is how Dominika’s story is described, who in Russia experiences only bitterness, pain, suffering and can not get treatment for the mother. Naturally, in Russia no one will ever help her mother, this is also emphasized in the film, not only the above quotation about oncological dispensaries, but also the history of General Korchnoi (the very same traitor the whole FSS is looking for). It turns out that the Russian embassy refused even to call an ambulance in New York, which is why his wife died (2 hours 2 minutes):
- I was born in a prison where there is no place for people, I learned to deceive liars, to surrender, until they surrendered me, to survive among the enemies. And I had to decide – to die in the prison where I was born, or to change sides, going to clunky Americans, for whom personal freedom is above all else.
In addition to Dominika, Korchnoi and the mother of the main heroine (not a character, but just an image of a sick mother), “good” or not horrible and disgusted Russians are not shown. In the ballet – all scoundrels, scouts – psycho-sadists, philanthropist – rapist, all women – evil prostitutes, the remains of the human in uncle Vanya (his affection for his niece) is explained by an unrelated attraction.
When Nate turns over Dominika, the doubting girl asks:
- Being your spy is different from working for them?
- Yes, I will not make you do what they are. It’s not worth it.