Birds of America

Title: Birds of America
Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: Drama
Starring: Matthew Perry

“People need to be jolted.”

I’m sure many reading this will have a hard time coping with the fact that there is no real plot to speak of. There is no overarching storyline, meandering throughout as we explore a vast array of characters, this film defines ‘character driven’ stories, and each character has enough of an individual character to push this story for its duration. There are morals presented, but never will it be presented in an unrealistic or forced manner, each one presented through the mannerisms of the character in question.

The story revolves around the life of Morrie (Matthew Perry), who’s father died when he was 18, leaving him with a dying mother, the house, and the responsibility for looking after his 12 year old sister and 7 year old brother. Having the duties of being a father thrust upon him, it’s not a surprise they turned out a little strange. Move forward 20 years, to when the film takes place and this becomes evident as he struggles to care for his younger siblings whilst being there for his wife, as well as trying to attain tenure at his post.

The characters themselves are superbly performed, particularly the family the film centres around. The frustrations and fears of ‘Morrie’ evident in the manner in which he reacts, he is evidently tired as he struggles to care for his brother and sister, whilst maintaining a healthy relationship with his wife. His sister, promiscuous and troubled, she is outspoken and at times unintentionally hurtful in the blunt manner she puts things forward, and whilst not with troubles of her own, they pale in comparison to their youngest. Quiet, naïve and with a childish innocence, he suffers from rather apparent depression, a blank face difficult to provoke a reaction from which only furthers the worry for his future. Each character is made known not by what they say, but rather their actions and reactions to events that occur, and it is this curious subtlety that sustains the interest.

Despite the strength of acting, this was not without its flaws. The ending became rather predictable, and whilst the initial strength of the unique nature of the characters works well initially, it fails to remain as interesting towards the end. Certain events occur which partially succeed in shaking things up, but more could have been done with it, and indeed should have been done. Such rather radical situations provoked surprisingly minimal responses, and certain plot elements, whilst intriguing and allowed for provocative conversation on interesting topics, felt unresolved by the films end. The characters introduction was well implemented, and gave something of a crash course in what to expect before delving deeper into the family history, but it is this lack of a resolution, of tying up the loose ends that is my main issue. This is a film to appeal to a rather narrow crowd, a relatively typical ‘sundance film festival’ style of film with some interesting characters, but ultimately not as unique as some of their other discoveries.

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