Sunday, January 11, 2015

Free as a bird

Bird People (2014) - Ferran
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A fleeting fairy tale of sorts, Pascale Ferran's Bird People is unexpectedly charming and touching without being coy. It begins from a bird's eye view of the Paris airport and people, as we swoop down and move from one person to another, as we eavesdrop their thoughts and conversations. We know that airports and hotels are not their final destinations. They are places people go through temporarily. Bird People evokes this empty feeling - loneliness, absence of human connections, very delicately. For the first half of the film, we follow an American businessman Gary Newman (Joshua Charles). He lands in Paris to attend an important business meeting en route to Dubai. He has a sort of mid-life crisis and decides to leave his job and his family. After a long emotional breakup session with his resentful wife (Radha Mitchell) over skype, Gary is ready to embark on a European tour by himself. Then we move to Audrey (Anaïs Demoustier), a college student who works as a hotel maid, whose aimless life consists of repetitive house-cleaning work and peeping other people's lives through the window across her apartment. Things go weirdly wonderful from there.

What I like about Bird People is that Ferran is not in a hurry to make some obvious point about urban loneliness. Her wispy tale of people connecting in a truly unexpected way is as light and soft edged as bubbles from a children's shampoo. But it carries as much depth and poignancy as any films about urban loneliness.