pascale ferran

TIFF 2014: ‘Bird People’ is an unconvincing take on personal liberty

There’s no easy way to write about Bird People without spoiling the ostensible magic and surprise it so valiantly strives for. Cut almost dead in the middle between depicting the mundane and the thrilling occurrences between two people at a modern and disconnected hotel in Paris, Pascale Ferran’s (Lady Chatterley) film aims to be ambitious and magical, but never quite comes together as it should, often feeling incomplete and insubstantial in the process. Opening with a playful prologue that includes different people on a commuter train, we quickly eavesdrop as they play on their phones, listen to music, and engage in conversation. It’s a curious way to start things off as it suggests the random importance of these brief human snippets that we drop in on but never revisit.

CannesBirdPeople

Cannes 2014: ‘Bird People’ one of the most mysteriously unique films out of Cannes

By just the opening shots of Pascale Ferran’s Bird People, the film has established an odd perspective: the audience is privy to the inner thoughts of each character, their wandering conversations, or the music modestly playing through their headphones. It’s an act of cinematic eavesdropping, of allowing the audience to peer into the lives of even the most minor characters. In truth, however, it serves as introduction to one of the leads, Audry (Anais Demoustier), a persistent wallflower whose curiosity into the private lives of others later lends itself to a magical opportunity. It’s the sort of magic that’s genuinely unexpected in such a drama-centered story, but the sheer amount of charm exuberating from the character-driven narrative allows the story to sink into a pleasing form of magical realism.

Cannes 2014: ‘Force Majeure’ shows maximum control from the powerfully subtle Östlund

Ruben Östlund’s powerful tale of moral expectations begins in a pure-white canvas as a photographer cheekily moves the family through mundane vacation picture poses. The camera, though already framing excellently in 2.35, swerves along with the family of skiers to create a silent, elegant painting of action. Scenes are often shot in long-take, though the conversations they encompass may elevate its transfixing pace. It’s slow, droll, and has the visual competency of an action film which sets it up initially as a natural black comedy. However, an instigating event suddenly transforms relationships within the nuclear family and beyond adding a significant undercurrent of tension that’s been rightly compared to The Loneliest Planet. From a storytelling and tonal perspective, it’s a different kind of beast that relies and succeeds through timing the combinations of drama’s basic components.

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