Review: The Bird – Yves Caumon

French-language film The Bird is a small, arty production that focuses on the life of Anne, who lives a fairly non-existent life in a small deteriorating apartment.

Sandrine Kiberlain’s lithe figure and lonely eyes produce a mesmerising performance as Anne, creating a character with stares as aimless as her wandering, and a drifting, innocuous presence.

The Bird is littered little scenes that, in any other film, would seem meaningless, but in a film so absent of dialogue they become significant in saying little but expressing a lot. In one scene, a man arrives at Anne’s house searching for her compassion, something which she cannot bare to offer. Whilst queuing in the street, Anne is approached by a woman and her two children extending their warm smiles, to which she merely nods. Later, she watches on as a young couple have sex out in the woods, but neither says anything nor walks away.

All the opportunities in Anne’s life it seems are purposefully missed. At one point a man says to her, “How can you live like that? Saying no to everything. It isn’t human.” “Isn’t it?” she replies.

The only real change for Anne comes when a pigeon finds itself lost inside her flat, vigorously flapping against the window. The bird soon becomes subdued when he realises he is trapped, just like Anne. Trapped by what though, is unclear.

The bird is the purveyor of meaning, taking on a multi-faceted identity and propelling ambiguity. On one side it symbolises a trapped hope, on the other a tangible freedom for Anne. But the bird is no phoenix, just a street pigeon it may signify the potential to transcend boundaries, but also, without knowing any of Anne’s past, it may serve merely as a verminous companion.

The fact that Anne doesn’t release the bird back into the outside is perhaps more a comment on humanity and the meaning of our actions than it is on the meaning of the bird itself. Strewn in its uncertainties and expressive in its silence, The Bird is both a satisfying and a tormenting watch.

The Bird, dir. Yves Caumon (2011, France)

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