Thursday, June 13, 2024

“BIRD”

THE STORYBailey lives with her brother Hunter and her father Bug, who raises them alone in a squat in northern Kent. Bug doesn’t have much time to devote to them. Bailey looks for attention and adventure elsewhere.

THE CASTNykiya Adams, Barry Keoghan, Franz Rogowski, Jason Buda & James Nelson-Joyce

THE TEAMAndrea Arnold (Director/Writer)

THE RUNNING TIME – 119 Minutes


There’s an element to one’s childhood that always manages to capture a somewhat magical quality. Even in the most broken and traumatic of spaces, the imagination that runs wild in youth can influence the perspective of a young mind. It can manifest in ways that are both grandiose and demure, but the impact is always felt. “Bird” is an examination of such a time, though its gaze does not only focus on a heightened reality in an altered state. Much of it has a passion for conveying the world in a grounded manner with only faint hints of a supernatural aura. It’s what makes the film an endearing spectacle that is anchored by a host of engaging performances.

In their small, rundown home in North Kent, Bailey (Nykiya Adams) lives a modest life with her father, Bug (Barry Keoghan), and brother, Hunter (Jason Buda). The simple rhythm she has become accustomed to suddenly becomes disturbed when her father announces his impending marriage. Feeling hurt and betrayed by what she perceives to be a rushed decision, Bailey rebels against this notion, refusing to participate in any obligation and choosing to run from responsibility. Among her misadventures, she comes across a mysterious stranger (Franz Rogowski). He happens upon her waking up in an empty field and introduces himself as Bird. He claims to be looking for his lost family, and their paths connect on multiple occasions throughout the week. Both are on a quest to find answers, whether internally or externally, and each are needed to unearth that true reasoning.

Andrea Arnold has always been an artist with a fascination for intimacy. The ways in which a particular space is built and textured within closed spaces give a great insight into the inner lives of these characters. Through the hazy lens of the 16mm film, what may seem like a slum area of London comes alive with a vibrant warmth. Her imagery evokes the yearning for freedom that Bailey desires, willingly able to traverse the globe like the beautiful insects that buzz about her room. All the same, the melancholy that is felt by a trapped fly in a spider’s web is the fate that should be avoided but difficult to evade. But Arnold knows how to delicately showcase this environment without any sense of pity, instead celebrating the magical nature that is around them. The first appearance of the title character is after a gust of wind that overtakes the plants in a barren field, illuminating a surreal quality to this individual that weaves throughout the narrative. This sensibility gives the film an engrossing quality that welcomes one on this journey of self-discovery.

While strong emotion beats at the center of this piece, it does falter from a sense of stalled momentum in its framework. Exploring Bailey’s perspective, quite obviously, limits the depth regarding some of these characters. It’s a deficiency that is felt more in others, but there is an oddly distant quality in her emotional connection to the important individuals around her. It is fair to say this factors into her own mental state; rebelling against the world seeks to restrict her in a manner she completely rejects until she can value the offered kinship. Yet, this catharsis can feel muted in some respects, with the exception of the final moments with Bird that offer the most poignant resolution. Yet, the arcs of others who surround her struggle to obtain complete satisfaction when separated from the screen presence of the actors who are portraying them.

Adams makes an impressive debut here, and an odd compliment to give is that she does not immediately possess the wildly infectious and bubbly personality that would make her instantly identifiable as a star. Instead, she comfortably taps into the realistic angst of a young woman struggling to find her place. Her argumentative bouts don’t have witty retorts or clever comebacks, and her personal revelations aren’t delivered through streams of tears. It’s all held back in a realistic way, and Adams commands the screen because of it. It can feel like a more subdued turn, but one that signals an intuitive performer who keenly understands the calibration a scene needs for a relatable display.

Even if one can lament the lack of depth with the other characters, the performers attack them with an appreciated bravado. Keoghan exhibits one of his best performances, again avoiding the pitfalls of an oafish father and instead embodying him with a caring personality with a sinister undercurrent that never fully transforms him into a villain. Rogowski, likewise, plays with a duality, inhabiting a flighty playfulness that continually masks a deep sorrow that is barely restrained. Even Buda finds plenty of charm in his appearances, though he is one of the aspects in this cast who is, understandably, not given a great focus. Still, the whole ensemble is in complete harmony with each other, successfully giving detail to the strife of all involved.

It can be easy to be very taken by “Bird” and its commentary on youthful transgressions that mature into a need to belong. Arnold’s directorial choices inform the vivid landscape, and every member of the cast provides a brilliant spotlight. In many instances, the narrative itself fails to succulently capture the joyous elation it seeks to communicate. For that reason, the revelations that should have a hard impact are less captivating. However, what remains compelling is the intention of demonstrating a difficult life that refuses to wallow in suffering. What instead is provided is perseverance, striving for the internal strength that will bear the weight of any conflict. For that, this portrait remains quite effective.

THE RECAP

THE GOOD - Andrea Arnold constructs a nicely textured world that can capture the emotional state of its main character in a captivating manner. Nykiya Adams gives a commanding lead performance, and an equally strong ensemble supports her.

THE BAD - Given the perspective of the narrative, some of the storytelling can feel a bit emotionally distant, which leaves a sluggish momentum in some parts.

THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - None

THE FINAL SCORE - 7/10

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Josh Parham
Josh Parhamhttps://nextbestpicture.com
I love movies so much I evidently hate them. Wants to run a production company.

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Latest Reviews

<b>THE GOOD - </b>Andrea Arnold constructs a nicely textured world that can capture the emotional state of its main character in a captivating manner. Nykiya Adams gives a commanding lead performance, and an equally strong ensemble supports her.<br><br> <b>THE BAD - </b>Given the perspective of the narrative, some of the storytelling can feel a bit emotionally distant, which leaves a sluggish momentum in some parts.<br><br> <b>THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - </b>None<br><br> <b>THE FINAL SCORE - </b>7/10<br><br>"BIRD"