out of Five
Running time: 91
Emotionally engaging French drama with a terrific performance from the ubiquitous Sandrine Kiberlain, though the symbolism is a little heavy-handed throughout.
What's it all about?
Written and directed by Yves Caumon, The Bird (or L'Oiseau, original title fans) stars Sandrine Kiberlain as Anne, an emotionally distant woman who lives alone in Bordeaux and works in a restaurant kitchen, where she routinely refuses to socialise with the rest of the staff and rejects the advances of flirtatious co-worker Raphael (Clement Sibony). Anne is continually kept awake by a mysterious sound behind the walls of her apartment and when she smashes into the wall with a hammer, she discovers that a bird has been living there after falling down her chimney.
Realising that the bird refuses to leave her apartment, Anne begins to care for it and buys it a cage, though she later relents and leaves the cage door open. Meanwhile, an upsetting phonecall from her ex-husband (Bruno Todeschini) eventually gives a clue as to Anne's emotional state.
Sandrine Kiberlain is rapidly becoming ubiquitous as she's somehow managed to show up in almost every French film released so far this year, from Polisse to The Women on the Sixth Floor to The Players. Here she gets a well-deserved lead role and delivers a terrific performance as Anne, an emotionally distant (and, actually, rather bird-like) woman haunted by an event in her past that the film takes its time to reveal.
The script is excellent, allowing Kiberlain to physically convey deep emotion without resorting to overwrought, explanatory dialogue, so that we're left to speculate as to the source of her sadness until the clues start to arrive. It should also be said that the bird-wrangling is exceptional throughout and there are some delightful moments, such as when Anne thinks the bird has finally flown away and it reappears out of nowhere and lands on her shoulder.
The only real problem is that the film almost collapses under the heavy-handed weight of its own symbolism, though, that said, it still doesn't quite go in the direction you expect.
This is a slow-burning, engaging French drama with a terrific central performance from Sandrine Kiberlain. Worth seeing.