×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Bird Can’t Fly

"The Bird Can't Fly" is a surreal combination of symbolism, New Age-ism and Barbara Hershey that makes too little effort to make its insular little world either credible or pleasurable for those of us who don't happen to live there.

With:
With: Barbara Hershey, Yusuf Davids, Tony Kgoroge, John Kani. (English dialogue)

“The Bird Can’t Fly” is a surreal combination of symbolism, New Age-ism and Barbara Hershey that expends too little effort to make its insular little world either credible or pleasurable. Pic’s distinctive South African setting and striking visuals are not enough to compensate for a script that fails to translates its good intentions into plausible drama. Hershey struggles earnestly at the pic’s emotional center to hold it all together, but apart from the odd fest pickup, this “Bird” looks like a dodo.

After 11 years away, pastry chef Melody (Hershey), somewhat starchy herself, returns home to her former mining town, arriving just in time for the end of her daughter June’s funeral. Her daughter’s partner, crippled moral ruin Scoop (Tony Kgoroge), the local postman, is a passive slob who spends his time composing sentimental songs. Their son River (Yusuf Davids) is a bratobsessed by war paraphernalia, with a plan to raise ostriches.

Scoop tells Melody to leave, and her initial meetings with River are disastrous. But when she does try to go (after her best attempts to bring some order and happiness to the chaos are rebuffed), a sandstorm of Shakespearean proportions halts her departure.

The storm, which implausibly kills some and morally improves others, leads to a visually stunning final scene that, like so many others in pic, is dramatically unearned. Along the way, aud is subjected to some real silliness.

Lensing makes the most of the bright, white dreamscape setting, and helmer Threes Anna cannot be faulted for her memorable, oddly angled images — many featuring ostriches, which in some respects are the stars of the show.

Eco-message is laudable, the broken-down old town is a fair symbol for the decline of the West, and pic’s suggestion that men are at the root of every possible problem (aside from an old grocery store owner played by John Kani), is interesting if misguided. But drama is sacrificed to the message, while the lone plot twist is visible from 20 miles away.

Hershey, her jaw set, typically throws herself into a physically demanding role as a woman doing her best against the odds, but some of the other thesping is suspect. Kgoroge, in particular, seems to function within a single register, while greater nuance would have made the figure of River slightly less repellent.

Score is a pleasantly downbeat counterpoint to the onscreen excess.

The Bird Can't Fly

South Africa - U.K. - Netherlands

Production: A 24FPS, Anna Prods. (Netherlands)/IMG (South Africa)/Borderline (U.K.) production. (International sales: EastWest Film, London.) Produced by Anton Scholten, Joel Phiri, Tom Maguire, Threes Anna. Executive producers, Moses Silinda, Hellen Shadeyi Kalenga. Directed, written by Threes Anna.

Crew: Camera (color), Guido van Gennep; editor, Wouter Jansen; music, Paul Hepker, Mark Kilian; production designer, Birrie Le Roux; sound (Dolby Digital), Peter Flamman. Reviewed at San Sebastian Film Festival (Zabaltegi New Directors), Sept. 25 2007. Running time: 89 MIN.

With: With: Barbara Hershey, Yusuf Davids, Tony Kgoroge, John Kani. (English dialogue)

More Film

  • Yorgos Lanthimos

    Film News Roundup: 'The Favourite' Director Yorgos Lanthimos Boards Crime Drama

    In today’s film news roundup, Yorgos Lanthimos has set up a crime drama, “Here Lies Daniel Tate” is being adapted, and Donna Langley becomes a member of the USC film school board. DIRECTOR HIRED “The Favourite” producer-director Yorgos Lanthimos has signed on to write and direct crime drama “Pop. 1280,” an adaptation of Jim Thompson’s [...]

  • Brody Stevens Dead

    Comedian Brody Stevens Dies at 48

    Prominent Los Angeles comedian Brody Stevens died Friday in Los Angeles, Variety has confirmed. He was 48. “Brody was an inspiring voice who was a friend to many in the comedy community,” Stevens’ reps said in a statement. “He pushed creative boundaries and his passion for his work and his love of baseball were contagious. [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business

    Hollywood Agents Blast Writers Guild Over New Proposals

    The war between the Writers Guild of America and Hollywood agents has escalated as the two sides battle over the rules on how writers are represented. The latest volley emerged Friday from Karen Stuart, executive director of the Association of Talent Agents, who accused WGA leaders of misleading its members and asserted that the guild [...]

  • Xavier Legrand Custody

    Cesar Awards: Xavier Legrand’s ‘Custody’ Wins Best Film

    Xavier Legrand’s feature debut “Custody,” a tense portrait of a family torn by domestic violence, won best film, actress (for Lea Drucker), and original screenplay at the 44th Cesar Awards, which took place at the Salle Pleyel in Paris. The awards are France’s highest film honors. “Custody,” which marks Legrand’s follow up to his Oscar-nominated [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'Late Show With Stephen Colbert' Win Publicity Campaign Awards

    Hollywood publicists have selected “Crazy Rich Asians” as the top movie publicity campaign for 2018 and “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” as the best television campaign. Warner Bros.’ “Crazy Rich Asians” topped the campaigns for Disney’s “Black Panther,” Fox’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Paramount’s “A Quiet Place,” Sony’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” and Universal’s “Halloween” for [...]

  • How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes

    How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes Sports and Showbiz in an Entertaining Mix

    Walking through the El Segundo studio where veteran sportscaster Rich Eisen tapes his daily “Rich Eisen Show,” the sheer density of sports memorabilia is overwhelming — everything from game balls to jerseys, gear, autographs and uncountable photos are crammed onto every inch of wall and desk space. But step into Eisen’s dressing room, and the [...]

  • Tessa Thompson Nnamdi Asomugha

    Tessa Thompson and Nnamdi Asomugha to Star in 'Sylvie'

    Tessa Thompson and Nnamdi Asomugha are set to star in the feature film “Sylvie.” Eugene Ashe has written the screenplay and will direct with production currently underway. The film is described as a love story set in the cool jazz era of New York City in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s. Sylvie (played by Thompson) meets aspiring [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content