Cinema Review: Bluebird | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, December 7th, 2023  


Studio: Factory 25
Directed by Lance Edmands

Feb 25, 2015 Web Exclusive
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The winters can be particularly harsh in Maine’s northern logging towns. As night falls and temperatures drop to single digits, there are few reprieves from the cold reality of life. Cheap beer and fleeting hookups are passable distractions, simultaneously proof of how distractions can evolve into life’s greatest mistakes. On one such chilly afternoon, school bus driver Lesley (Amy Morton) fails to notice a boy asleep in the back seat when she parks the vehicle at the overnight depot. It’s not until the next morning that she finds him; by then, the damage of a night spent at below freezing has taken its toll. With the child in a coma, Lesley, her family, and the boy’s mother and grandmother are all forced to confront the skeletons hiding in each of their closets.

Writer-director Lance Edmands, whose first credits came in the form of internships on A Home at the End of the World and Broken Flowers, has evidently learned from the great independent filmmakers working today. His ability to create a fully immersive, tangible world, to completely transplant the audience, is almost uncanny. A native of Maine, he expertly infuses his first feature with a chilly bleakness that lends itself not only to the film’s inciting event, but also to the daily lives of the characters inhabiting it. Atmosphere abounds in Bluebird, osmosing through the screen and into viewers’ bones. The chill in the air. The burden of yet another snowstorm. The relentless speculation as to whether life holds anything more fulfilling. Edmands makes all this—and more—palpable.

The talented supporting cast, including John Slattery, Louisa Krause, and Emily Meade, acutely convey the difficulty and longing their characters face. It is impossible to watch Bluebird and not feel for these people, to want them to find happiness, to want everything to be okay. Make no mistake about it, though—even with a hint of hope, Bluebird is no cheery winter ode. It is under this emotional weight Bluebird might sag, like a tree bowing under snow. As the film progresses, life gets more and more difficult for each character, until an ending that offers few answers. Will life be okay? Will the ice ever melt?

Despite a less fulfilling climax, one can be certain of this—Lance Edmands is a talent to watch for years to come, an adept storyteller and capable director. If this is his debut feature, one can only imagine what his future films will be.

Author rating: 7/10

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