May 17, 2015


Lance Edmands, 2015

Edmands directorial debut features a film where the the weather conditions is almost it’s own character. There are films like this that have been made, where there is a built-in sympathy for town’s residents. Fargo, The Shining, Alive, Let the Right One in, The Thing. A portion of all of those titles are literally people just trying to ENDURE the unforgiving weather elements outside, of course all in varying degrees. It’s not much different in the rural blue-collar Maine logging town. The town is filled with people that are trying to get through their day to day life and are also facing the challenge of just trying to stay warm when it is absolutely brutal outside. Edmands is a director who certainly wants to show us some artistic flare. At one point in the film when the Marla character (Louisa Krause) is singing in the bar, it invokes memories of Christina Ricci’s character singing in the bowling alley in Buffalo ‘66. It triggers memories of that hypnotic darkness. Edmands employs some good acting: Adam Driver, John Slattery, Amy Morton. Nothing really falls short in the technical realm and nothing in the performances. Instead, it’s the story itself.

The title of the film is Bluebird, and as we see it’s a recurring symbol at different points in the film. In a sense it feels weirdly used. In Native American cultures the Bluebird represents spring. In the Iroquois mythology it is the singing of the bluebird that drives off the demigod Tawiscaron who represents winter. The Hopi tribes treat the bluebird as a guardian. Ironically, the symbolism of the bluebird, at least in this perspective, is disconnected. At no point does it feel like there is going to be any directional shift. These poor people in the town are starving for some kind of relief. Whether this comes in the form of warmer weather, better employment, better health. Anything. But it never comes. That’s the biggest problem with this film. It NEEDS a charge. Some deviation from the chill. Instead, it is mired in it’s own depression. It’s a story that continues to kick itself while its down. If only it could have provided a positive charge somewhere. And in the end, when there is a final shift, it’s too little too late. Instead we are forced to spend 90 minutes in a frigid town that we don’t want to spend five minutes in. Edmands deserves another shot, and he will get one. It will be interesting to see what he does in the future with a better (and maybe a little bigger) story.

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