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Sparkle
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27 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

beautiful

8/10
Author: mbdub from Ireland
27 February 2007

Just seen this film on Dublin Film Festival and it's beautiful. OK, I would not call it a masterpiece, there aren't really any deep feelings or thoughts in there, it is just a comedy. But it is so beautifully shot.

I happened to see quite a few films recently that aim high but fall flat with their shallow performance, jerky camera movements, etc. This film is a nice break from that. It flows from scene to scene smoothly and naturally. It's like a good music by wind instruments. If everything plays in unison, you can almost physically feel the beauty of the music flow. Same here. Everything fits together so perfectly: camera work, montage, acting.

Acting is excellent. Entirely believable and funny. Especially from Amanda Ryan and Shaun Evans. (Uncle Tony was very funny as well.)

So, don't expect any incredible depth, but if you want to have a bit of fun (possibly on a date, as there is lots of romance in there as well) then this film is well recommended.

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23 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Not exactly Bollinger - more like a lovely sparkly Cava that will still warm your heart

8/10
Author: Chris_Docker from United Kingdom
26 August 2007

A sparkle is as indefinable as the soul.

We can all spot it - someone who sparkles at a party. We all want it - that magic charisma. Can you think of a time when the air sparkled? You stop what you were thinking about. You hang on to every word. Maybe a smile is slowly captured at the corner of your lips? As you open your mouth to speak, does it sound like someone else speaking? Reverie in motion. Something inside just . . . sparkles! If we could only bottle it and put it in a novel, a song, a play, a movie.

But Sparkle is no metaphysical examination of psychological attitude. It is a loving, light-hearted, low-effort comedy. And it sparkles.

Jill is the aspiring pub singer. She travels down to London with son Sam so they can both seek fame and fortune. Vince (Bob Hoskins) offers them a flat. Sam soon meets Sheila (Stockard Chaning). Sheila is a powerful, vampish woman with her own PR company. Sam soon sleeps his way into her business. But their cosy arrangement hits problems when Sam falls for Kate (Amanda Ryan). And only later does he find out that Kate is Sheila's daughter.

Sparkle does at times feel like a re-run of The Graduate, updated to a modern London setting. But its warm charm and lack of any pretentiousness wins our hearts. Hoskins has one of his most lovable roles. Shaun Evans, as Sam, perfectly balances genuine sincerity against gold-digging acumen. They all exude spontaneity and a range of conflicting emotions are handled with finesse rather than grandstanding. It can, however, verge on being too deep after telling us we will just be entertained. "I know you're a bit shallow," Kate teases Sam, and so is this movie. But do we care? Dollops of sound political correctness fill subtexts for those who have naughtily forgotten to leave brains at the popcorn stand.

If there's a moral, maybe it's that even the most horrid-seeming family members aren't bad once you know things from their point of view. The inter-relatedness and mountains of coincidence are a bit overdone for believability. But, hey, there are enough giggles to distract us as we wade through a box of Kleenex at high speed. Lesley Manville (as Jill) even does her own stage songs (the film title is from a poster where she makes a grand opening). This is shameless schmaltz - a genuine British feelgood romcom.

Director/writer Tom Hunsinger says, "We use improvisation as a means of discovery. Actors, in character and in the heat of the moment, react to situations in ways that cannot necessarily be written or predicted or easily imagined. The process lends itself to a life-like, spontaneous quirky quality allowing us to write for the individual 'voice' of each actor. Actor and character somehow 'knit together', resulting in performances that feel authentic and deeply felt." Not that I thought about that deeply about it at the time.

I actually laughed and cried till one of my contacts fell out.

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17 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

not really feel-good

5/10
Author: (gsygsy) from london uk
7 September 2007

Not as good as the writers'/directors' previous effort, LAWLESS HEART, despite an array of fine actors. I think the problem lies in the limited range of the male lead. Scenes between everyone else work well enough, but his cheeky-chap persona grates after a while. This is more of a criticism of the script than of the actor. When we finally see his vulnerable side, it's too late for the rom-com ending.

The relationship between the characters also seems too conveniently close-knit to convince. Sure, by definition every work of fiction is artificial, a fabrication. There was a central idea in LAWLESS HEART - a bereavement - that bound the whole thing together. Here, unfortunately, the inter-connections seem worthier of a novel than a movie.

Bob Hoskins is particularly endearing in SPARKLE, so fans of his should see the movie if they can. Otherwise, in spite of reliable performances from reliable performers, this feels like a rather half-hearted attempt at a feelgood movie.

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

A total delight!

10/10
Author: paulinewainwright from United Kingdom
13 October 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I loved this film, managed to see it twice even though it is on very limited release in the UK (why??) Shaun Evans as Sam is totally believable as the charming ingenue who sleeps with the 'boss' in order to get a job. Amanda Ryan as Kate is less convincing and seems a little superficial (even though she tells Sam at one point that he is the one who is 'shallow'). Bob Hoskins and Lesley Manville provide the subplot superbly well, with a lot of humour. Anthony Head camps up his fun cameo as the gay lover. For me though it was Stockard Channing who stole the show - brilliant as Sheila, the hardened PR executive who, despite herself, finds herself falling in love with her young lover. The scene where Sam was finishing their affair, and then the scene at her brother's when she discovers who Sam is now sleeping with were both superb, with Stockard showing everything in her facial expressions and eyes. However, I did feel that at the end there was a scene missing - when everyone else was linked together happily, I felt there should have been a brief shot of Sheila - alone in her luxurious but unlived-in apartment, maybe reflecting on the loneliness of her life. I wish this film would come out on DVD, or at least be shown on TV so that I could record it, as I could definitely watch it more times.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Sparkles in my heart

6/10
Author: Ian Padfield (flapjackfilms@hotmail.com) from Falmouth, Cornwall
7 May 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Sparkle reminds me of a feeling I've had many times before. I had locked this feeling away in a drawer in a secret office somewhere. By watching this romcom, i was forced to enter that underground bunker, and nervously open the dusty drawer. I am glad that this metaphorical event happened, because it has made me realise that, honestly, the feeling is not that scary. Sure, it was a little uncomfortable at first, but refreshing to finally release what had been repressed for so long. The film brings us a stream of characters, in a periodic, cyclical fashion. Sam Sparkes (Shaun Evans) is our young male protagonist, who abandons everything to move to London, and obtain menial work with the brilliantly bashful Vince (Bob Hoskins). Sam's mother Jill (Lesley Manville), doesn't want to be left behind, so she joins him in London. Hoskins is the perfect choice to play Vince, who sheepishly pines for Jill in a manner which is first just creepy, yet becomes adorable. He is a gentleman, but with urges which drive him to act a little desperate, for instance the moment when he sees Jill bending over outside his window, and chooses to take a photograph! Sam has a brief conversation early on with a fellow waiter, the significance of which is apparent later. The waiter explains jokingly that he slept his way into his job. Sam goes on to meet and charm the much older Sheila (Stockard Channing), whom he not only sleeps with, but indeed, gains employment with. So far, so indie, you might say. A strong comic element hits us in the face in the opening scene, and we are allowed to think that this is a film which is going to be downright silly throughout. But the jokes are amusing, and we soon realise that despite the comedy, we are on tentative ground, because at any moment we can be surprised by a sudden dive into emotional upheaval. So we can certainly call this a romcom without doubt. However, I am left feeling that there is something else to this movie. At a party held by Sheila, a brazen young vixen called Kate (Amanda Ryan) entrances Sam and they have a 'moment'. This of course leads to an affair. Nothing particularly different yet. However, Kate has some secret information regarding her identity, which makes us realise that Sam is not a mere scallywag cheat, but a fully fledged scoundrel. Because when he discovers this secret, he is devastated. But he does not seem concerned for either Kate's nor Sheila's feelings, merely that he is likely to be found out soon. So for the first half an hour, Sam is a cheeky, charming kid, having a great time, and delightfully seducing an older woman to have a mature relationship. Then he falls in love with Kate, and we can't exactly blame him for that. But the way he acts from then on is just a complete switch in personality, so that for me personally I really start to hate him. And this is where my own personal bunker metaphor comes in: Sam represents a part of me that I have previously refused to recognise. None of his specific actions reflect any of mine, I must add. But his selfish tendencies, and refusal to recognise the emotional consequences he may be causing, certainly do remind me of myself in some ways. And that's the main thing I like about this film – apart from the extremely alluring Amanda Ryan as Kate, I like the fact that the main character can be an absolute bastard to the point that we hate him, and yet the film finishes with the problems resolved so that we forgive him, because she does. This means I may be forgiven? Perhaps not, but Sparkle has given me a therapeutic fantasy that I will be. And I enjoyed it.

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Fails To Really 'Sparkle'

5/10
Author: Rich Wright
30 October 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Some films just feel like everyone's going through the motions, with the cast on autopilot and nary a surprise anywhere. Check this one out for starters... the individuals in it feels unfinished, as if the writer started exploring their personalities but gave up halfway through. They behave in very odd ways, with no satisfactory answers given why and no great thought as to their motives. They fall in love at the drop of a hat, are sneaky and devious one minute and yet kind and considerate the next, and OF COURSE there has to be two gay uncles dishing out advice on love. YAWN.

And don't get me started on the event which ultimately repairs the relationship between our central duo... it's the first time I've seen a couple overcome the myriad of difficulties they have over a dodgy dance cover sung by the bloke's mother. Who needs a marriage counselor when you've got a middle aged X factor reject? When the pair made them goo-goo eyes at each other over the dance floor while his mummy warbled on, my breakfast almost made an unwelcome reappearance.

Still, it's not all bad news. The actors are certainly game, and throw themselves into their parts... as limited as they are. And there is the odd funny line that they manage to squeeze under the radar. It's an inoffensive, relatively harmless way to spend 100 minutes. Just don't go expecting any major insights on love, life or karaoke, or you're likely to be disappointed. Massively. 5/10

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Annoying in parts, but thank god for Stockard Channing

5/10
Author: iferleigh doe
17 June 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was quite curious about this film, mainly because I've been a big fan of Stockard Channing for a long time. I've always liked her in a any role may it be the First Lady of the United States or a witch or just a small town wife. One of the most underrated actresses of all time. She never disappoints, no matter how dry or imperfect the script or material she is given, she always delivers.

Which is pretty much all I can say about this movie.

First off, and remember this is all in my own opinion, the lead characters playing Kate and Sam bugged the heck out of me. Sam, the little imp that he is, sleeps his way into Sheila's (Stockard's character, a big PR boss and a very Devil-Wears-Prada-esquire woman with claws to match) bed and company only to meet a young girl his age and later decides to dump his lover-slash-boss. Sheila decides to fire him, knowing she could not possibly still keep him on after their little affair. Along the way in the movie, Sam realizes the girl he's dating, Kate, turns out to be Sheila's daughter.

Sam is basically a bit of a cad.

Yeah, go figure.

And why did Kate bug me? Well, first off, the whole acting wasn't up to par, then again, Sam's wasn't either so moving on. Second, the way she was written, a hardened young-no-daddy-girl-with-too-busy-mommy, was supposed to also be a young activist-esquire girl, protesting to set free some sort of criminal (when scenes without Channing came, I immediately got bored and paid less attention) was played too weak. She went from this tough rebel chic to some bitter, ungrateful (mummy was never around but managed to give her allowance always, typical teen-angst), idiotic girl who lets a boy get the best of her because she later finds out he slept with her mother and lied about it.

As far as happy endings go, they're great and swell, but it bugged the heck out of me when she just forgives him, after being given a stolen dolphin, and ride off into the sunset. It's a bit stupid, I have to say, because one: he slept with her mum and two: he lied about it (and three, he slept with her MOTHER--I don't care if he didn't know that prior, but god, can you imagine awkward? I would die).

There are a thousand other guys in the world, why would you settle for that? Awkward future ahead.

For some sort of activist-esquire type of girl, she sure forgives lying easily. Kate was written too weak, in my opinion.

Okay, there, main characters were idiots.

Stockard Channing played Sheila perfectly from hard-ass b*tch boss to scorned lover to vulnerable and exposed woman hiding behind a hard mask. She didn't disappoint, along with Anthony Head (who was a delight as Sheila's gay brother) and Bob Hoskins.

If you are a Channing fan, worth watching at least, but really, if you're easily annoyed with teen-love gone awry with easy (read: idiotic) fixes, then run. I had fun watching Stockard, but the kids didn't do it for me.

Girls, strong headed, level headed ones who easily see through BS might find this annoying, but romantics who love 'grand but small gestures' then you might enjoy. It's pretty basic stuff. Like the graduate, only with sillier kids.

Channing fans: watch it, but you might want to fast forward in some areas. She plays her role fabulously, as always.

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12 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Weak and quite bland

3/10
Author: poowk from United States
20 December 2007

I thought the plot was somewhat weak and the male character very unlikable. He seemed to be selfish throughout the film and remained so even in the end. I did not find myself cheering for a happy ending. The only character I did like was the struggling mother trying to make it as a singer, but that side story really had no parallels with the main plot. The rest of the story flowed in a very predictable manner and was quite unoriginal. After watching the movie, I felt like I had just wasted my time. I don't recommend watching it unless you have a profound love for British accents and that, that alone would satisfy your time in watching the movie.

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6 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

It's not very good, I'm afraid

3/10
Author: Kev Beaumont (serenity@pettifog.com) from United Kingdom
6 September 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's a romantic comedy, but it's bland as hell as it just lacks story direction. There's many narrative problems -- for a start, Kate is presented as a strong, spiky lady at first (she's campaigning for the release of a wrongly imprisoned person as a sub plot), but then she's accepting of the main character sleeping with his mum and lying about it. Why? Because he gets her a toy dolphin. Not only is that pretty insulting to this films female audience, it's insulting to anybody who's ever had a meaningful relationship. For a romantic comedy to have those flaws is absolutely fatal, and it won't find a commercial audience because of that.

Sam's character deserves a punch throughout the entire film - the audience won't like him due to his character journey (he tells his girlfriend he loves her, whilst lying about shagging her _mum_, in the space of 30 seconds). He goes from idiot, to idiot, in 90 minutes. We're defining lack of character journey in a motion picture, here.

So, the male and female lead characters are idiots.

Amusing, Bob Hoskins turns up near the end to smack Sam about - but the audience I saw it with laughed at the scene. I would have found it far more entertaining if Hoskins had beat him to a bloody pulp.

Basically, if older men wrote and directed a romantic comedy, this would be what happens. And it is. Kate goes from being interesting to being a complete idiot of a character within the space of an hour, and it's a real shame. Kate's the worst representation of a protester I've seen in a movie pretty much ever, also, and it's something I found fairly insulting.

Performance wise, Amanda Ryan is mostly great, Tony Head absolutely nails his part and Bob Hoskins is Bob Hoskins.

The overall opinion I had from this is that they didn't want to another Love Actually, but at the same time they didn't have the balls to make anything meaningful in any other sense. Relationships are complicated and messy, people can be strong, individual and interesting; this is not that representation of life, love or people.

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Nixed Doubles

6/10
Author: writers_reign
19 August 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I sometimes get the feeling that the only reason people make films like this one is so that people like me, who like to go to the cinema at least once a week, will have an alternative to the cgi/slasher/American pie formulaic garbage that fuels the multiplexes. In other words fairly pleasant, fairly harmless movies, like Venus, Shameless, Junebug, Waitress etc that fill a gap but, like Chinese food, leave you craving something more substantial within the hour. Hunter and Hunsinger scored a mild success with Lawless Heart and return to the same general area and clearly figure that if outrageous coincidence was good enough for Shakespeare it's good enough for them thus we get a chain of events in which Bob Hoskins, on the strength of an meeting Shaun Eveans for an hour or two and taking a shine to his mother, Lesley Manville, offers Evans the use of a flat in London which leads to Evans finding work as a waiter and catching the eye of PR honcho Stockard Channing with whom he is soon doubling as a gigolo where he in turn catches the eye of a girl his own age who, surprise, surprise, turns out to be Channing's daughter; Channing has never disclosed the name of the father and as Dorothy Parker said you could have knocked me down with a fender when he is finally revealed as Hoskins' brother. With story lines like these you need decent thesping and on the whole that's what we get with the glaring exception of leading man Shaun Evans compared to whom an amoeba with Learning Difficulties would eclipse Errol Flynn in both charm and charisma. Luckily Evans is surrounded by Manville, Hoskins, Anthony Head and Amanda Ryan all of whom help to make the time pass pleasantly enough.

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