Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sparrows [2015]

MPAA (UR would be R)   Fr. Dennis (4 Stars)

IMDb listing listing (E. Luna) review* (A. Rivera) review (L. Barwenczik) review*
The Hollywood Reporter (J. Mintzer) review
Variety (G. Lodge) review

Sparrows [2015] [IMDb] [CEu] (written and directed by Rúnar Rúnarsson [IMDb] [CEu]) is a coming of age drama from Iceland / Denmark which played recently at the 2015 (51st Annual) Chicago International Film Festival.

Ari (played by Atli Oskar Fjalarsson [IMDb] [CEu]) is a 15-year old, introduced to us literally as "a choir boy" singing with a choir in a church in Reykjavik, was born to Icelandic parents from a small fishing village somewhere in northwestern Iceland.  Since his parents' divorce, he had been living with his mother in Reykjavik.  But now mom was recently remarried (apparently to "some exciting / worldly city slicker" Dane ;-) and she with her new Danish hubby were flying-out "for some time" (how long? months certainly, but one gets the sense "longer"...) as "part of some NGO" to "Africa."  So, perhaps with some regrets, mom was putting Ari on a plane and sending him "back to his dad" in said "small fishing village" in northwestern Iceland.

Ari _does not want to go_, but at 15, LIVING ON A ROCK in the middle of the freakin' North Atlantic where, once one gets out of Reykjavik there really do seem to be as many "seals and birds" as there are _people_ around, he really does not have much of a choice.  Besides mom reminds him: "Grandma's really looking forward to seeing you again."

And it's true Grandma (played wonderfully by Kristbjörg Kjeld [IMDb]) is, well, grandma, who _is_ happy as pie to see him, as he is honestly quite happy to see her.  It's dad, Gunner (played again wonderfully, with all his complexity / failings in "good ole boy" fashion by Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson [IMDb] [CEu]) that he'd prefer not to see.

It's not that Gunner's been violent or otherwise inappropriate with him (though he _is_ a drunk).  It's simply that to Ari, Gunner's been basically "a loser," "stuck in the mud" back in the fishing village where he was born, while mom, first dumped him, and now was remarried with this far more exciting guy (did I mention that he was "Danish, from the Continent ...") literally "high flying with him" somewhere "in Africa."

But there Ari is, "stuck" now with dad ... and grandma with her heart of gold who's trying SO HARD to make things work ... and ... then ... Grandma dies.

What now?

What a great (if certainly R-rated, "redneck" / "country folk") story.  And yes, while this would be a mild spoiler alert, Ari finds a way to come to understand, love and forgive his dad.

Honestly, a great story even if the film-makers certainly don't spare "choir boy" Ari (or us, the viewers) some very difficult and certainly morally challenging situations.  Life is not exactly "a Rose Garden."  But it is certainly _not_ boring.

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