Little Sparrows. 20 February 2016. 2:30 pm.

LITTLE SPARROWS (Yu-Hsiu Camille Chen, 2010)
Nicola Bartlett, James Hagan, Nina Deasley, Melanie Lyons, Arielle Gray


In a crisis, people sometimes behave in uncharacteristic ways, oftentimes to reveal a truer version of themselves. This film is about one such crisis, in the aftermath of a cancer diagnosis, and about its effect on the lives of three sisters, the little sparrows of the title.

Most of us have been affected by cancer, and will recognise in this film the jolt of irreversibility, the slap of unfairness, and the recall to urgency.

The loose and choppy framing contrasts with the stilted three-part structure, but this is in fact a tightly planned film. Little Sparrows appears to pluck and pile up inconsequential snippets and details, and the result is that as the film advances we grow to appreciate the irrelevant, the unfinished, the just-hinted-at. And for good reason. Following in the modernist tradition, this film seeks nothing less than capturing Life itself, the brief messy luminous business of being alive.

Little Sparrows is a rare treat for other reasons too. It’s an intelligent film about parenting, it showcases a female ensemble cast in a film not primarily marketed at women, and it includes a lovely coming-out scene where nothing is declared or acknowledged at all.

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