In Review

Sparrows Dance

3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5 out of 5 stars - 'Sweet Stuff'
2012, 81 min
Cast: Marin Ireland, Paul Sparks, Tony Arkin, Zoran Radanovich, Niesha Butler, Benny Slay
Director: Noah Buschel
Distributed by Tribeca Film
Screenwriter: Noah Buschel
Available on VOD, iTunes, Vudu, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play. Limited theatrical release.
Review by Clinton Stark

May I come in?

She (Marin Ireland), the Woman in Apartment, is a loner, scared to make contact with the world outside her apartment who would rather watch classic black and white movies on tv, drink beer and eat Chinese takeout. He (Paul Sparks), a jazz musician by night and plummer (“in a monkey suit”) by day who doesn’t care that she doesn’t seem to have a job, and has been holed up for over a year.

While the premise isn’t entirely unique, we care for these two soft souls who fall into each other’s arms because of: (a) the understated, touching performances by both the leads; (b) the equally understated direction (Noah Buschel) that lets the camera linger eschewing the hyper-active Office-style movement we see copied all too often these days; and (c) the idea that human interaction still matters and there is not one single high-tech device (unless you count an old television), smartphone, tablet or social network reference to be found.

Manhattan-based director Noah Buschel (who wrote the screenplay) said that this film was his attempt at “stripping down story and plot as much as possible… can the lead character let down her guard? Or will she stay isolated?”

We kind of have an idea of where the story may be headed. But watching the two slowly open up, then retract after a misstep, and then try again is rewarding in itself. I particularly like that Wes, the suitor with a wrench, equates his job of fixing toilets with that of maintaining his saxophone (you have to keep it oiled). Early on, there’s a sweet exchange when the two first meet involving her “faulty toilet rendition.” He follows with his own impression of his boot falling through a floor. It’s as if to say if words can’t work, well, we’re human after all, we can connect with sounds and humor; our silly small talk selves.

Given the limited setting (the film takes place almost entirely within an apartment) and the relaxed pacing and camerawork, at times it feels like a play. Marin Ireland’s pedigree–she was nominated in 2009 for a Tony for Neil Labute’s Reasons to be Pretty (review)–suits the production perfectly.

The screener that I viewed was in 4:3 format which is highly unusual these days, though I suspect, at least based on publicity stills that I’ve seen for the film, the final cut available online will be widescreen.

Sparrows Dance, which has been performing well on the indie film circuit, is available now on VOD (so you don’t need to leave the house/apartment to fetch it!), and in limited theatrical release. Look for the “Woman in Apartment” (but don’t dare try to make contact with her!) on iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, or on Amazon where you can buy a 3-day rental.

If you’re looking for a personal, down-to-earth, explosion-free evening of film Sparrows Dance should satisfy immensely.

Sparrows Dance

Clinton Stark
Clinton shoots videos for Stark Insider. San Francisco Bay Area arts, Ingmar Bergman and French New Wave, and chasing the perfect home espresso shot 25 seconds at a time (and failing). Peloton: ClintTheMint. Camera: Video Gear