Marked by strong performances and a thoughtful anti-bully message, Dutch telefilm “Bluebird” plays like a young adult novel that connects with adolescents by refusing to condescend. Sidestepping many opportunities to turn treacly and/or didactic, director Mijke de Jong and screenwriter Helena van der Meulen have crafted a lovely, understated all-ages film well suited to fests and cablers seeking quality family fare.
Set in the port city of Rotterdam, pic tells the story of 13-year-old Merel (the wonderfully naturalistic Elske Rotteveel), a bit of an overachiever in school and a dutiful companion to her handicapped younger brother (the equally impressive Kees Scholten). Merel is teased more and more by her classmates for helping her brother and being smart in class. Shooting in an unfussy, yet intimate, close-up style, de Jong captures the homogeneity of school cliques and the hardships endured by those who choose not to conform. Pic seems effortless in its approach, but carries a strong emotional impact and shows how exciting and terrifying the world appears viewed from that precipice between childhood and adulthood.