A story centered on an actress who has become agoraphobic who reluctantly allows a plumber into her apartment after her toilet overflows.A story centered on an actress who has become agoraphobic who reluctantly allows a plumber into her apartment after her toilet overflows.A story centered on an actress who has become agoraphobic who reluctantly allows a plumber into her apartment after her toilet overflows.
Sparrows Dance brings the best of theater to the screen. The apartment in which it takes place is a theater set. Every stick of furniture is there for a reason. Every action using the furniture makes sense. The film uses it all. It's a perfect set, and I kept thinking I'd seen some of it before. The director and writer, Noah Buschel (strange guy; he was there for the Q&A), opens each scene with a three-second still life, during which you watch the room and the people in it. I was startled by the artistic brilliance of those moments. His sets are Edward Hopper paintings. Every scene's frame is a lovely but disturbing Hopper still life. It could have been too much, and a few times it comes close, but it never crosses the line. The backdrop is necessary for us to get a sense of how she lives her closed-in life. There is one scene in which the two people falling in love are dancing, and it mesmerizing. You don't want it to end. And their dancing is perfect. Not too slow. Not too fast. Not too sensual, but rather exploratory. I've never danced with someone quite like that, but I would like to.
Patience. Sparrows Dance calls for patience; you must wait for it to unfold, and no one, not the director or any of the actors, is going to give you anything faster than a slow moving, painful ride to a possibility. Not once. Whether it's lighting and that first puff of a cigarette, or the answer to a question; there is no fast track to the next scene. It's great, and I guess there is no rush when you are an agoraphobic who hasn't left your apartment in more than a year, and we can honor her struggle by giving her two hours to tell a story that could have been told in one and a half.
The dialogue is brilliant. "When people believe in boundaries, they become a part of them." Oh yeah. Marin Ireland and Paul Sparks will be in many more films to come, I assure you. Their look is more theater than film, but it is my hope that the grand scheme of movie making might possibly 'grow' in the future; that the Hollywood looks that have always been called for in films will be exchanged for actors who can act, whose faces can tell the story as well as words.
God, I wish there were more movies like this. The budget was $150,000 and it was filmed in ten days. One of the producers, Louise Runge (love your energy, Girlfriend), said Buschel knew exactly what he wanted and was able to let them know it in an amazingly productive way. Buschel said that because the actors were stage actors, they learned their lines and knew how to function inside them so no improv was necessary on their part.
I have to say that Buschel was strange—he came to the front of the theater with his hat pulled down, wearing several layers of clothing. He actually said it would be fine to end the Q&A before it began, and he was awkward and just a little rude. But he wrote the script, and I can't help but think he knows a little something about preferring to stay hidden in one's apartment. I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt. He knows his stuff, and he believes in his stuff, and I can't wait to see what he does next.
I don't believe this movie will take off in theaters. Nope. Not now. But save it to your Netflix queue, and in six months, settle in with some Chinese take-out (you will see why), turn the lights down low, and head into someone else's world for two hours that will fill your soul.
- Jun 7, 2013