Having seen the trailer for Sparkle a couple of times over the last month or so, it was a pleasant surprise to find that the trailer hadn’t spoilt the entire plot.
Young man Sam moves to London and flirts with Sheila, an older woman played by Stockard Channing, ending up working as her PA. He flirts with a younger girl, Kate—Amanda Ryan who you might remember as Sophie in BBC2’s Attachments—at party and falls for her. The older and younger women know each other, but Sam doesn’t realise. And the younger woman doesn’t know the extent of his relationship with the older woman.
And in the background, Sam’s mother is trying to sing for a living, while neither Sam nor Kate know who their father is, Bob Hoskins is old, sad and looking for love, and I keep expecting Jed Bartlett to run onto the set and attack Sam for sleeping with his wife!
There’s a chase scene that’s not up to the standard of Bourne Ultimatum (go and see it!), but is funnier. There’s some visual humour—watch out for the dialogue about “building” while people in the background play an unrelated game of Jenga—and the film’s background music has a live feel, sounding like it’s being played by a live band just under the screen, like the band that you’d find at the foot of a village hall stage when the local drama group are putting on a musical!
It’s a lot less cheeky that British romcom Love Actually (remember the nativity with the lobster from Christmas 2003?) and was produced with a much smaller cast and budget. But it makes the most of its triangle of love and deceit.
And although nearly all the film is set in London, it was almost entirely shot in Liverpool and the Isle of Man. Maybe the next UK romcom will be shot in Belfast?
British films are a bit hit and miss. Sparkle isn’t the most exciting of films, but the small cast’s acting is good, and there are enough twists and turns to keep you watching for 104 minutes. My only disappointment was that Stockard Channing seems to be missing from the last ten minutes of the film, and her character’s issues are never resolved. A loose thread that fell to the cutting room floor.