To begin with I was rather worried about Sparkle, I knew it was a British romantic comedy so when the opening minutes made me think of a typical British soap episode, I thought this was going to turn out to be bad.
However that sitcom feeling all but disappears within about ten minutes and the film begins to pick up, to find something of its own, and to deliver some rather good performances. Come the latter half of the film you suddenly realise that the story has you hooked and the characters have drawn you into their lives.
The story follows Sam, a young ambitious man who has a very charming manner which he uses to get himself his first job in public relations. While he continues to sleep with the boss he discovers true love, and all the complications that come with it, and all about him others are finding that love is terribly complicated.
The performances are very good, and I was particularly surprised by Stockard Channing's British accent. She, like all the actors, displayed good comic timing and a dry delivery.
Bob Hoskins also stars, and unusually against type, here he's a mild mannered man who has lived an extremely sheltered life. Perhaps one of the most surprising, and best appearances is from Anthony Head who plays a gay Uncle. His appearances are very amusing and gathered some of the best laughs from the press audience, particularly from his eighties birthday party.
The two leads are played by Shaun Evans and Amanda Ryan, and both give natural and emotional performance. Evans is particularly good with his comic delivery and his acting in general, I really did enjoy his time on screen despite is obvious cockiness.
Early on in the film though, after that sitcom moment, the film does offer some standard comedy, and I wondered if we were going down the usual British romantic comedy route, but that quickly changed and the story found something of its own.
Although you could say that there are typical British comedy elements here, the set-ups and payoffs are quite clever, and the dialog is pretty natural and witty. All these elements combine to give one of those British romantic comedies with lot more on top.
I really did enjoy the film, the performances and script are very good and there are some excellent scenes which had me groaning in sympathy for the characters. Not only that but the ending, while managing to stay clear of too much processed cheese, had me shedding a few tears for a few of the characters.
It's not Love Actually, but it does have plenty to stand up on its own with, and enough to give you laughs, smiles, and possibly a few tears.