Director: Kirsty Bell
Writers: Elizabeth Morris and Dominic Wells
Starring: Sadie Frost, Jeff Fahey, Derek Jacobi, Bill Fellows, Frances Barber, Morgana Robinson, Julie Dray, Sophie Kennedy Clark, and Daniel Ward
At this point ‘lockdown’ is a genre all by itself. In the next few years there will be a wave of films about lockdown, either directly or indirectly. It’s inevitable that artists will try to capture the last two years in some form or other. That’s exactly what A Bird Flew In is doing. Several interwoven stories of people stuck in lockdown while the film they were working on is shut down due to the pandemic.
The stories feel very familiar to what we’ve all seen on the news and social media during the pandemic. People struggling, family members dying, mental illnesses growing. It’s a bleak and sombre film that’s very reflective of what we’ve all experienced, even if the characters are in much nicer houses and flats. It’s something that has brought most of us together.
One of the things the film does really well is give you a muddled sense of time. Early in the film, Diane (Sadie Frost) tells her teddy bear that no one really knows what day or time it is. Time skips through in the film, and before you know it someone is referring to weeks, rather than days. It’s exactly how the pandemic has felt like, the longest and short years of our lives.
The hardest hitting stories in the film is where Lucy (Morgana Robinson) is struggling with her mother being diagnosed with Coronavirus and her slow decline, while Lucy can’t see her or say goodbye. There’s a harrowing phone call where Lucy is being told her mother is being taken off the ventilator but isn’t allowed to see her. It’s a scene that will give you chills and is all too real for a lot of people. Morgana Robinson carries the weight of the scene perfectly and it’s something that will echo throughout your mind as the rest of the film plays.
Sadly, a lot of the other characters aren’t as interesting. They seem exaggerated characters rather than real people, and some of the acting is very stilted, sometimes even grating to watch. There’s a husband stuck in Australia, who blames his wife for everything, while at the same time is cheating on her and doesn’t take the flight back to the UK when offered. He even forgets her birthday. The whole thing feels a little over the top and doesn’t feel real.
There’s another character who is spying on his ex, watching her struggle in her own isolation, by using the cameras in her flat. It’s really strange and uncomfortable to watch. The film doesn’t really tackle it in any meaningful way, it just kind of happens.
A Bird Flew In captures the madness and absurdity of the last two years. Despite it’s flaws it still gives a gut punch. When it works it really works, and when it doesn’t it exhausting.
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