You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Sparrows Dance

A rigorous two-hander, Noah Buschel's latest tale of margin-dwellers (after "The Missing Person" and "Neal Cassaday") couples an agoraphobic ex-actress who hasn't left her apartment for months with the socially awkward plumber/saxophonist she reluctantly lets in when her toilet overflows.

With: Marin Ireland, Paul Sparks.

A rigorous two-hander, Noah Buschel’s latest tale of margin-dwellers (after “The Missing Person” and “Neal Cassaday”) couples an agoraphobic ex-actress who hasn’t left her apartment for months with the socially awkward plumber/saxophonist she reluctantly lets in when her toilet overflows. Centered by Marin Ireland’s thoroughly convincing perf as the housebound young woman, “Sparrows Dance” conveys limitations without claustrophobia, as lenser Ryan Samul, shooting in a boxy 4:3 ratio, navigates an intensely personal space that never feels theatrical. With solid critical support, this inventively minimalist indie, winner of a narrative feature prize at Austin, could carve out a narrow theatrical niche.

The film’s first 15 minutes belong to Ireland as her never-named character maps out the topography of her small Manhattan apartment, establishing her solo routine. She takes a bath, stares at the computer while pensively smoking, watches movies on TV, rides her stationary bike, orders food and leaves money outside for the delivery man, pretending to be too busy to answer the door. A physical tic — a repeated thrusting out of her chin — underscores the involuntary nature of much of her behavior, while her cigarette puffing highlights the nervous energy she expends on maintaining a facade of normal human interaction.

When her overflowing toilet floods the downstairs apartment, causing her neighbor to pound on the door furiously, she is forced to deal directly with another human being. That would be Wes (Paul Starks), plumber by day, saxophonist by night. The woman incongruously dons a suit and high heels for the occasion, obviously ill at ease, though a shared appreciation of jazz begins to bridge the yawning conversational chasm. When Wes mistakes her refusal to go out with him as personal rejection, she invites him over for dinner.

Sparks’ oddball, self-deprecatory charm and Ireland’s uncertainties play off each other nicely as their eclectic tastes mesh; both characters are thrilled at finding someone who accepts and even welcomes the other’s peculiarities.

Helmer Buschel marks the beginning of his leads’ romance by demystifying film space in striking fashion. After dinner, Wes asks the woman to dance. The action then cuts to a long shot of a large, dark soundstage, empty except for the brightly lit apartment set in the far background with the two protags dancing. The camera slowly dollies in until the apartment again fills the frame, and still further into a two-shot of the dancers as they kiss, re-engaging the fiction.

Buschel and lenser Samul go for increasingly abstract effects as Wes and the woman’s relationship deepens: A blinking neon sign, somewhat visible in previous night scenes, now insistently floods the bed with red as the lovers share pillow talk, the color wash somehow cloaking their naked vulnerability.

Sparrows Dance

Production: A OneZero production. Produced by Samantha Housman, Louise Runge. Executive producer, Michaela Conlin. Directed, written by Noah Buschel.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Ryan Samul; editor, Brett Jutkiewicz; production designer, Megan Cotts, art director, Todd Davis; costume designer, Jamie Bresnan; sound, Kristopher Dennett; supervising sound editor, Javier Bennassar; sound designer, Bennassar; re-recording mixer, Chris David. Reviewed on DVD, New York, Oct. 20, 2012. (In Hamptons, Austin film festivals.) Running time: 81 MIN.

Cast: With: Marin Ireland, Paul Sparks.

More Scene

  • Cara Delevingne poses for photographers upon

    Cara Delevingne to be Honored with Hero Award at Trevor Project New York Gala

    The Trevor Project will honor Cara Delevingne with the Hero Award at its upcoming TrevorLIVE New York gala. Delevingne has supported The Trevor Project‘s efforts to end LGBTQ youth suicide rates, in addition to using her platform to speak out about mental health issues, women’s rights and animal conservation. On screen, she has acted in [...]

  • Kristen Stewart'JT LeRoy' Film Premiere, Arrivals,

    Kristen Stewart: 'Charlie's Angels' Reboot Is 'Woke' but Still 'Funny and Weird'

    “Charlie’s Angels” has made the jump to 2019. Kristen Stewart, who stars in the Elizabeth Banks-directed reboot as one of the Angels, says the classic ’70s franchise has been updated to modern times without losing its pulpy action. “At one point I think we said it was woke and grounded, and everyone was like, ‘Wait, [...]

  • Robert De Niro

    Robert De Niro Slams Trump Administration at Tribeca Opening Night

    The 18th annual Tribeca Film Festival opened with Roger Ross Williams’ documentary “The Apollo” at the iconic uptown venue which performers and Harlem community members call “home.” “You can feel the history, the echo of the entertainers,” Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Robert De Niro said in a speech before the film. “In this administration, during [...]

  • Lilli Cooper Tootsie

    How the 'Tootsie' Musical Was Updated for the #MeToo Era

    Turning the beloved 1982 comedy “Tootsie” into a 21st century musical already seemed like a challenge when work on the adaptation began back in 2016. Then the #MeToo movement revved up — and the writers knew they couldn’t tell Dorothy’s story for a modern audience without it. “It’s different than it was when the movie [...]

  • Ralph Fiennes attends a special screening

    Ralph Fiennes on Directing Rudolf Nureyev Biopic: 'It's Been a Very, Very Long Road'

    Ralph Fiennes celebrated his latest directorial outing, “The White Crow,” on Monday night in New York City. The Sony Pictures Classics film tells the story of legendary dancer Rudolf Nureyev. “It’s been a very, very long road. We were mad. We were mad to take on this subject of Rudolf Nureyev. Mad. Completely mad,” Fiennes [...]

  • Taylor Swift Time 100 Performance

    Watch Taylor Swift's Time 100 Gala Performance and Speech

    Just two nights out from Taylor Swift D-day spring 2019 — i.e., Thursday’s release of a new single — Swift made an appearance Tuesday at the Time 100 event in New York, where she did not let loose with any spoiler performances of new music but did sing a few fan favorites, including “Style,” “Delicate,” and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content