Entertainment Magazine

Movie Review: ‘Sparrows Dance’

Posted on the 30 August 2013 by House Of Geekery @houseofgeekery


Directed by: Noah Buschel

Starring: Marin Ireland and Paul Sparks

Plot: An agoraphobic woman and a charming plumber fall in love


If someone would poke out the eyes of the hawks

We sparrows could dance wherever we please!

The title comes from that line of poetry written by Hanshan (translates to Cold Mountain). As far as I can tell the only information anyone has on him comes directly from his poetry found written on the rocks in a cave he called home.  As the legend goes, he was a Buddhist trying to escape craving writing poetry in a very commonplace and approachable manner. Leading up to this quote, Hanshan talks about going into town and essentially being picked on by bullies staring and jeering at his strange appearance concluding that if it wasn’t for all these damn people around, we would all be happy just being ourselves.

The heroine of this story (Marin Ireland), a woman whose name we never learn, is kind of that way. She was an actress whose stage fright consumed her to the point where she was afraid to even leave the apartment (paid for by residuals if you were wondering). This apartment becomes the one and only setting of the entire movie shot in an unconventionally tight aspect ratio to reinforce the idea that we are stuck between these four walls.


Ireland is essentially going through the motions of living. She putters around the house exercising or watching TV. She makes calls for take out pretending that there is more than one person in the room. When the delivery guy shows up, she slides the money under the door and pretends to have just gotten out of the shower or stuck on the phone. It is the kind of trope that could be made by any Hollywood romantic lead, but Ireland brings a pathetic pathos. She reels us in and makes us feel bad for her. She never seems 100% sad, just completely unfulfilled, a look I don’t think I could accurately describe until I saw this movie.

When her toilet breaks and floods the floor of her apartment, she is forced to interact with a charming plumber named Wes (Boardwalk Empire‘s Paul Sparks). Ireland’s lead dresses in a professional suit and heels and pretends she has somewhere to be while Wes is there, which I thought was a very funny detail.

Wes is a chatty, self-deprecating guy with a nuanced way of speaking that kind of reminds me of the late comedian, Mitch Hedberg. He is the other side of the spectrum from Ireland’s lead. He is big and goofy in a way that might turn off people who just want the plumber to get in and out and not be their new best friend, but he doesn’t really care what people think. He is who he is despite what society at large thinks of him. Of course, that is kind of a melodramatic way of describing him given how low-key this movie is. His humility and sense of humor stops him from being a preachy Popeye philosopher. He just likes people and happens to have the gift of gab.


The two of them fall for each other in one of the most ridiculously adorable ways possible. Wes is direct in what he says and wants while Ireland, anxious about social interaction, stutters and facial-ticks her way around his questions. Under most circumstances they would probably be completely wrong for each other and they sense that. They are patient with each other and humor each other’s eccentricities until they can bond over their shared interest in jazz and poetry (Wes is a bohemian-esque jazz musician while Ireland has plenty of time on her hands for multiple hobbies). The centerpiece of it all being when the couple decide to dance, shot from a ridiculous distance that actually reveals the soundstage that the apartment was built on zooming in on our lovebirds beaming with happiness as they awkwardly dance to a cool tune.

Writer/director Noah Buschel is able to sell us on the ever-lasting power of love and that there might still be some juice in the romantic comedy genre. It is cute and adorable without being “baby-talk” bubbly. He filters truisms through optimistic hipster lingo (which I normally would absolutely despise) and embraces conventions in such a way that makes the movie feel familiar and lived in instead of simply a retread of last year’s model of rom-com garbage.

Rating: 9/10

What Else to Watch: Broken Flowers, an indie, off-beat rom-com that is more of a dramedy. It star Bill Murray as an aging “Don Juan” who gets an anonymous letter from someone claiming to be an ex-lover and mother of the son he’s never met. He sets out meeting all his old flames looking for the one who may have mailed the letter.

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