A “sparrow” is the term for a Mata Hari style secret agent, trained to seduce men in pursuit of secrets. Ballerina Dominika Egorova (played by Jennifer Lawrence) is inducted into this life by her uncle Vanya (I know, I know; the Chekov references could be subtler), a spymaster, when her ballet career is cut short by a serious injury. Trained at spy school by the cynical Matron (Charlotte Rampling) and directed by General Korchnoi (Jeremy Irons), Dominika is soon thrust into the cut and thrust world of espionage.
In this film Tilda Swinton plays Marianne, a major rock star who has had to have a throat operation and is convalescing in a villa on an isolated Mediterranean island. All seems idyllic and Eden-esque (complete with a presumably symbolic local snake) when temptation arrives in the form of her former record producer and ex-lover Harry (Ralph Fiennes) who has recently discovered that he has a grown-up daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson), who is travelling with him during a break from her studies.