Little Sparrows is the story of a mother’s love and how her children ultimately grow up to lead their own lives.
The mother, Susan (Nicola Bartlett) is dying from second stage cancer. She only has months to live and makes plans to “die in her own way.” Her estranged husband James (James Hagan) comes home to live as she organises one last Christmas to share with her 3 daughters and their families.
The action of the film centres around the lives of the three daughters and the decisions they make. The emotional highlights of the film is when each daughter has a conversation with their mother, alone, in the hospital ward. Susan gives each daughter some advice, her unconditional love and ultimately closure so that they can move on with the next stage of their lives. Her last gift to her family is to leave them with her peace. Her last gift to herself is revealed in the last frames.
Bartlett as Susan is sensible and loving and not given to hysterics. Her quiet presence fills the deep places of the story while the daughters provide the ‘action’ and the narrative.
The first conversation is with Anna (Melanie Munt), an actress who is cheating on her husband and seems to be making a number of mistakes with her life. Her mother intuits that all is not well. “Its hard to know what to value” she adds. For the daughter who apparantly has everything : looks, talent, husband, career of her choice; her ‘inside’ or ‘hidden’ life is not matched by the outside.
Furthering this inside/outside theme, Christine (Arielle Gray) has a relationship which she has kept hidden from her family. Eldest sister, Nina (Nina Deasley), is widowed and raising her two children, without time to develop her own relationships. The stories of the three sisters reveal some of these hidden internal aspects to their lives and set them on a new path of discovery or recovery.
This is a well made and touching debut from writer/ director Yu-Hsiu Camille Chen. 3 out of 5.