Movies / Movie Reviews

The Sparrow / Peur(s) du noir at Fantasia 2008

By Al Kratina
July 20, 2008 - 16:11

The Sparrow
2008, Hong Kong
Director: Johnnie To
Screenplay: Milkyway Creative Team, Chan Kin Chung, Fung Chih Chiang
Cast: Simon Yam, Kelly Lin, Lam Ka Tung, Lo Hoi Pang, Law Wing Cheong
Producers: Johnnie To, John Chong
Distributor: Universe Entertainment Ltd.

When Hong Kong action director Johnnie To makes a movie, I expect at least one person to backflip over a bullet. So when I see a film full of twirling umbrellas and gentle rain, it subverts my expectations, like I just saw Meg Ryan with her shirt off, or funny Adam Sandler movie.

The Sparrow is about Hong Kong pickpockets, and it has more in common with Busby Berkely musicals than his previous work. That’s not completely a bad thing, but it’s a shock nonetheless.


A greater risk is the film’s experimental narration, which refuses to fill in gaps and leaves exposition to the sharper minds in the audience. Sadly, my own intellect, suspect at best, is automatically dulled when the lights dim, so I struggled with parts of the film. An intriguing, ambitious movie, though not an entirely successful one.



Peur(s) du Noir
2007, France
Director: Blutch, Charles Burns, Marie Caillou, Pierre Di Sciullo, Lorenzo Mattotti, Richard McGuire
Screenplay: Jerry Kramsky, Michel Pirus, Romain Slocombe, Blutch, Charles Burns, Pierre Di Sciullo
Cast: Aure Atika, Guillaume Depardieu, Nicole Garcia, Louisa Pili, François Creton, Christian Hecq, Arthur H
Producers: Valérie Schermann, Christophe Jankovic, Vincent Tavier, Philippe Kauffman
Distributor: Celluloid Dreams

Another less than successful experiment, Peur(s) du noir contains seven animated visions relating to childhood fears. Some are visually interesting, others creepy, but rarely do the twain meet.

The more experimental shorts do accurately capture a drifting sense of menace that would horrify a six-year old. But I’m in my twenties, so I’m scared of credit card debt and hair loss.

The last short, in which a man takes shelter from a blizzard in a haunted house, is the most effective of the bunch, though an interestingly animated piece in which a frothing aristocrat leads around a pack of rabid hunting dogs is a close second. Neither, however, is as frightening as my Mastercard bill.


Sick of reading paragraphs with punctuation and sentences? Here’s a bit-sized capsule review, with a handy “Suckometer” scale, that runs from 1 (good) to Suck (not good).

The Sparrow

I was really excited to see this movie. Up until I realized it was about people bumping into each other and stealing wallets. I hope his next movie isn’t about watching paint dry. I wish I had brought my blanket to the movie. One a scale of 1 to Suck, I would give this a Sleeping Beauty.

Peur(s) du noir

This was a pretty movie that seemed interesting, but ultimately didn’t deliver. More scary, less philosophy. On a scale of 1 to Suck, I would give this a Waking Life.

Last Updated: September 6, 2021 - 08:15

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