Sparkle (UK) (tbc)

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Review byMatthew Turner15/08/2007

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 104 mins

Engaging romcom with likeable characters, a decent script and a surprisingly strong emotional undercurrent.

What's it all about?
Shaun Evans (who looks remarkably like a young Paul Nicholas) plays Sam, a charming Liverpudlian scamp who jumps at the chance to move to London, even if it means his mother, aspiring singer Jill (Lesley Manville), moving down with him. While working as a waiter, Sam schmoozes PR exec Sheila (Stockard Channing) and soon sleeps his way into a job as her assistant.

However, things get complicated when Sam falls for Kate (Amanda Ryan), a young woman he meets at one of Sheila's parties, little realising that she's Sheila's daughter. Meanwhile, Jill's neighbour and landlord Vince (Bob Hoskins) develops a crush on her and resolves to help her with her singing career.

The Good
Sparkle is written and directed by Neil Hunter and Tom Hunsinger, who made The Lawless Heart. As with their previous film, they show an affinity for well-written characters and slow-burning, emotional storylines.

Evans has a likeable, twinkly-eyed charm and there's genuine chemistry between him and Ryan (recently seen in EastEnders as Mad May's oh so perfect sister). The supporting cast are superb, too. Hoskins and Manville are very sweet together (Hoskins' smitten face is rather wonderful), but the performance honours are neatly stolen by Stockard Channing, who's on great form here.

The Great
The script is sharply written with several witty lines and laugh out loud moments. There's also a treat for Buffy fans, as Anthony Head plays Kate's camp uncle Tony to hilarious effect.

The film's breezy tone and romcom-based shenanigans mask an underlying sadness, particularly with regard to Channing and Ryan's characters. This is handled well by the filmmakers, who do well to avoid the film turning into sentimental slush towards the end.

Worth seeing?
In short, this is an enjoyable British romcom with likeable, well written characters and an engaging script. There's certainly more than enough here to make Hunter and Hunsinger's next film an eagerly awaited prospect.

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Content updated: 20/10/2019 21:40

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