“Bird People” was one of the movies that kinda happened to me. Originally, I didn’t plan on seeing it, but when I made my schedule, I noticed that the movies before and after it were two of those that I really wanted to see. Since I didn’t feel like wandering around for roughly 3 hours, I thought, what the heck, and decided to watch “Bird People” too. A decision that, fortunately, I didn’t regret, since I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.
If I’d have to describe “Bird People” with one word, it would be “charming”. It is a nice little fairy tale for grown-ups that, while not glossing over the more unpleasant aspects of it, ultimately celebrates life – and the wonders that can be found. After the first 20-30 minutes that introduce us to the two main protagonists, the story unfolds as two mostly separate episodes. The first one deals with the burnout of Gary Newman, who during the first night of his stay in Paris suddenly decides to change his life completely. He misses his flight on purpose, decides to stay in Paris for the time being, quits his job, and also his marriage. The breakup-scene – via Skype – is breathtaking. It cuts really deep, and there’s a lot of truth in there. I’d assume that whoever went through a hard breakup after a long relationship will be able to relate to at least parts of it. For me, these roughly 10 minutes were the best part of the movie.
The other segment follows Audrey Camuzet, who works as a maid at the hotel where Gary is staying. And after the first 1-1/2 hours that were very realistic and down to earth, the movie suddenly takes a leap into the fantastical. I already knew what was going to happen, thus I was prepared for it, but nevertheless it was a pretty jarring transition that everyone who plans on watching the movie should be prepared for. I have to say, even though I already knew what was coming it took me a while to accept it and simply go with it, but once I did, I found it to be quite marvelous, and very entertaining. Also, those effect scenes were absolute incredibly. I have no idea how they did it, and I think I don’t even want to know. It all looked so realistic. The performances are great all around. I especially liked Anaïs Demoustier, who I found to be an incredibly charming presence. However, Josh Charles is also great. Special mention has to go to Radha Mitchell as Gary’s wife, who also gives a stellar performance.
However, there are also a couple of drawbacks. I believe that the movie is a tad too long. Even though it was not he movie’s fault, having seen “The Midnight After” a couple of weeks before, which heavily featured David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”, the scene where it’s used here lost a little bit of its appeal to me. I also found the ending to be rather disappointing. It was just far too clichéd and felt like your typical romantic comedy. I mean… [SPOILERS] of course the washed-out old american guy ends up with the cute, young french gal [/SPOILERS]. How could it be otherwise? By far the worst thing about “Bird People”, however, was the voice-over narration that tells us things about the character that we should be able to gather without this artistic device. Voice-over narration is a tricky thing to get right, and in this case, it felt like it was only there because Pascale Ferran didn’t trust his audience and/or his ability to be able to communicate what’s going on without that. The fact that the narrator reads his lines with the fervor of someone who reads an address from a telephone book obviously doesn’t help. I really wish they would have dropped that, because it ruined some of the atmosphere for me. Despite that, “Bird People” is a nice, charming and entertaining movie with a couple of marvelous scenes.