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.
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.
Serial killers have provided ripe material for film for several years, both directly and indirectly. Alfred Hitchcock’s seminal horror classic Psycho famously had a lead character modelled after Ed Gein, while David Fincher’s Zodiac notably took a different tack by focusing on an ultimately unsuccessful investigation.