A Semi-Precious Stone
"Sparkle" is a movie which may end up annoying people because it feels like it has tried to take the classic "The Graduate" update it and have a twist. By that I mean here we have a young man who ends up sleeping with a sexy older woman but then at the same time starts dating a girl of his own age unaware that he is sleeping with a mother and daughter. But the angst of this young man is not the story because whilst we watch this situation develop to an inevitable explosion where people discover what has been going on it changes focus to be about the relationship between mother and daughter. And that is where for me "Sparkle" has a problem because "The Graduate" inspired first half is fun with quirky characters and scenes yet when it changes focus it becomes predominantly serious and being serious makes it dull in comparison.
Sam Sparkles (Shaun Evans - Telstar: The Joe Meek Story) and his mum Jill (Lesley Manville) move to London where the ambitious Sam wants to make something of his life. Finding work as a waiter he meets older business woman Sheila (Stockard Channing - Must Love Dogs) at one of her parties and charms his way first into her bed and then into a job as her assistant. But then Sam meets Kate (Amanda Ryan) and falls for this attractive young woman who couldn't be anymore different to Sheila. The trouble as Sam eventually discovers is that Sheila is Kate's mum leading to some serious complications and ramifications for this cocky young man and the women in his life.
So "Sparkle" is a movie of two halves with the first half being a bit like "The Graduate" as Sam ends up in a relationship with Sheila but then also her daughter with everyone oblivious to each others relationships. It is witty with Sam being this confident almost cocky young charmer who talks himself into Shelia's life and bed as well as a job but then finds himself falling for Kate who is his equal. And it is good fun because we also have quirky subplots and characters from Sam's mother Jill a wannabe singer and the overly generous Vince who is besotted with her as well as Kate's gay uncle Tony. You almost feel that it is familiar because at some point you know Sam's two timing life is going to come out, Sheila and Kate will learn that they are with the same guy leaving Sam to squirm.
But then "Sparkle" changes tone as the focus becomes less amusing as we have the strained relationship between Kate and Sheila becoming the focus and the question of who her father is. It is such a shift in tone and focus that it ends up jarring with the first half feeling almost like it is a separate movie. There is still some amusement as we still Jill and Vince as well as Kate learning things about various people she didn't realise but the amusement takes a back seat.
And it is a shame because the amusing first half is great delivering plenty of smile moments. And even if it is obvious that at some point Shelia will learn that Sam is sleeping with Kate and in turn Kate discovering Sam has been screwing her mum you are happy to wait for it to explode in his face and watch the fall out as he realises what an idiot he has been.
But even when the tone changes "Sparkle" still entertains thanks to actors delivering enjoyable performances. Bob Hoskins, Lesley Manville and Anthony Head are all there to provide comic relief through their almost caricature style characters and you know when ever they are in a scene you are going to end up smiling be it Head acting camp or Hoskins being like a love sick puppy. But you also get that smile form Shaun Evans who plays Sam because he is a confident young charmer, cocky enough to flirt with Sheila who is definitely out of his league. And talking of Sheila, Stockard Channing has this sexy older woman thing going on brilliantly, dominating in her style but behind the facade is a vulnerability which she keeps locked up. Amanda Ryan is just as good as Kate with that softness of a daughter trying to be the opposite of her mum yet still having that sexy power to dominate.
what this all boils down to is that "Sparkle" is entertaining but a case that where as the first half will amuse it struggles to keep your attention during the second half as the focus switches to the relationship between a mother and daughter.
Tags: Age Gap Romances