Critics Blast Jennifer Lawrence Movie 'Red Sparrow' As 'Sexploitation'

Jennifer Lawrence's new spy film, Red Sparrow, has divided critics with its themes of violence, rape and nudity.

The film sees Lawrence play Dominika, a ballerina dancing at Russia's famous Bolshoi while caring for her sick mother.

Unable to dance after a serious injury, her Uncle Vanya offers to help her financially if she works for him, but after witnessing a brutal murder, Dominika is sent to a school for 'sparrows'.

Jennifer Lawrence attends the European premiere for 'Red Sparrow'. Credit: PA
Jennifer Lawrence attends the European premiere for 'Red Sparrow'. Credit: PA

The sparrows are young, most ex-military women trained to use seduction in order to defeat enemies.

The film has been controversial due to its scenes of rape and torture, as well as Lawrence's on screen nudity, and has divided critics.

In a Village Voice review, film critic April Wolfe labelled the film 'a desperate quest to get one sexy woman very naked'.

She argued that the film failed to provide any details of the difficulty in becoming a spy, arguing that the sparrows are taught more about seduction than actual espionage.

"But where is the action?" she wrote. "Where are the scenes of the Sparrows actually learning spycraft, so we can see how mentally and physically grueling it all is?"

She compared the film's black/white portrayal of US/Russian relations to FX television's The Americans, which she felt did a better job of portraying 'complex spycraft techniques'.

Tweeting about the film, Wolfe said: "In short, Jennifer Lawrence goes to whore school and learns to get naked and pick locks."

She later amended the tweet, clarifying that the use of the word 'whore' were the moviemaker's words, not her own.

Sara Stewart of the New York Post criticised the film, writing that it 'resembles countless bad sexploitation flicks'.

Other reviewers were more sympathetic to the film, if not gushing with praise.

The Guardian's Benjamin Lee gave it three stars out of five, praising its 'narrative propulsion' while criticising the distracting presence of non-Russian actors affecting very non-Russian-sounding accents.

Variety's Owen Glieberman gave the film a positive review, arguing that it has 'has enough tangles and reversals to be a fully satisfying night out'.

Credit: 20th Century Fox
Credit: 20th Century Fox

As for the actor herself, Lawrence told Entertainment Tonight: "Everybody made me feel so comfortable that I probably at a certain point started making everybody else uncomfortable.

"Because I'd be like, 'I don't want the robe. I'm hot. I'm eating.' Everybody's like, 'She needs to cover up.'"

Lawrence rose to fame after her break out performance in Winter's Bone before becoming famous around the globe for her portrayal of Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games series. She won a Best Actress Oscar in 2012 for her performance in Silver Linings Playbook.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Ronan O'Shea

Ronan J O'Shea is a freelance journalist from London who has written for titles including LADbible, Headspace, The Independent, National Geographic Traveller and New York Post. Contact him at [email protected]

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