The Bird Review

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Score

A superb performance by French actress Sandrine Kiberlain lifts this minor-key drama from the realms of mediocrity.

Ardent, longtime superfans of the lissom French actress Sandrine Kiberlain will find much to admire in Yves Caumon's minor key study of grief and loneliness. She plays Anne, living in a cramped top-floor apartment in Bordeaux and shunning emotional connections whenever offered to her.

Her relationship with work colleagues is frosty, if respectable, and – for reasons which remain unclear until the final reel – she seems unable to forge and retain a meaningful bond with anyone, most notably the husband she recently separated from.

Solace and understanding arrive in the form of a lone pigeon that becomes trapped in her sideboard. Once she's freed the little fellow, it decides to hang around, returning to apartment in a bizarre inter-species acknowledgment that, were it not for Anne's intervention, it would surely be worm food.

She goes to the cinema to see Mizoguchi's The Life of Oharu, a film about the saintly, unquestioning sacrifice of a woman who is able to naturally rebuff the horrors of existence. Anna clearly possesses no such mettle.

Though hardly a film of revolutionary insight and formal pyrotechnics, Yves Caumon's slow and steady approach to the material chimes nicely the central conceit of a person apparently unable to come to terms with a past disaster. Some may find Anne's surprising camaraderie with the bird a little pointedly metaphorical, especially as most people would be reaching for a loaded air rifle in such situations.

Yet, the idea that meaning often arrives from unexpected places shines through, and it's primarily down to Kiberlain's soulful, sensitive and quietly expressive lead performance – arguably her all-time best (or at least up there with 2009's Mademoiselle Chambon). Her scenes with the bird – especially the shots where she simply stares at in silent, baffled reflection – are especially beautiful.

When the big reveal does arrive at the end, it's moving, if not particularly revelatory, but it still affirms that, even though it will likely be strewn with unavoidable tragedy, life is worth living, and the scars are always worth patching up.

Anticipation

A chance to see the great Sandrine Kiberlain front-and-centre of a movie.

3

Enjoyment

Sweet, soothing character study with super-sized animal metaphors.

3

In Retrospect

The central performance is great, but the film itself is too light and its insights too on-the-nose.

2
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