Take a Drink: for birds
Take a Drink: for flight takeoffs
Take a Drink: whenever the camera eavesdrops
Take a Drink: whenever Gary’s on his computer or smartphone
Do a Shot: for smokes
Do a Shot: wait, what the hell just happened?
By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
Airports, with their perpetual hurry and antiseptic, hyper-commercial sameness (how exclusive can Luis Vuitton be if every airport with more than two runways sells it?), turn a lot of people off, but I rather like them. There’s just this feeling of possibility, of new places and experiences just a matter of hours away and the people watching is unparalleled outside of a Walmart.
I’ll bring the lawn chairs, you bring the popcorn.
Bird People deep down agrees with me, I think. Split in two parts, it follows an American businessman (Josh Charles) and a French hotel maid (Anais Demoustier). In the first, Charles reaches an undefined breaking point in an airport Marriott, and systematically disassembles his life over a couple of days and a series of phone calls and skype sessions. In the second, Demoustier discovers something wondrous and unexpected about herself, and her environment.
This is one of those artsy-fartsy foreign films Uncle Fred always rails about. Switch on some wrestling for him and watch this anyway, it’s worth the investment. It’s slow-developing, and doesn’t hold your hand, which is precisely why it’s so engrossing. It provokes more questions than answers, but the fun is in asking and pondering them.
The first part of he film cultivates an intense feeling of ennui and aimlessness and director Pascale Ferran is unafraid to follow the same story logic, meandering from real life and through imagination and memories, reflecting Charles’s mental state. The second half becomes something else, though, almost a fairytale, reflecting a different, more wild beauty but never departing from its deeply humane foundation.
Another approach to fairytales- slap some CGI on it!
Speaking of CGI, this movie only uses one special effect, but it’s an incredible one. It also delivers some gorgeous nighttime *ahem* birdseye shots. Josh Charles, so excellent in The Good Wife, delivers a great performance here as a man at the end of his tether who just… quits. He agonizes over this decision, but he follows through on it, revealing new shades of character as he becomes more determined. Demoustier looks rather like and has the down to earth charms of Shailene Woodley. We’ll be seeing more of her.
The big twist is certainly unlike anything you’ve seen, and your enjoyment of the film is likely to hinge on it. I bought it, but it isn’t easy- the execution is a little silly at first.
The ending, which brings together the two characters and their stories, feels rather tacked on and inessential. Charles’s story in general feels too tidily wrapped. Is that really it, all problems solved and a new life before him? If so, bullshit.
While Bird People should have resisted the urge to put a bow on its story, that story is legitimately captivating in a difficult to describe way. It’s full of just the right amount of mystery, human emotion, and insight to keep you glued to the screen.