Friday, February 27, 2015

Movie with Abe: Bluebird

Directed by Lance Edmands
Released February 27, 2015

Small towns and deserted landscapes are practically made for stories about unnerving, quietly disturbing events. Snow has a particular power to mask the darkness of any given development, and it did so in last year’s “Whitewash” and countless films before it. Now, it helps to blanket the disconcerting plot of “Bluebird,” which looks at the aftermath of a young boy found barely still alive aboard a school bus one morning and how his state affects his own family and the bus driver who found him.

“Bluebird” is a relatively silent film, one that finds its characters only speaking when they absolutely need to, emphasizing its stark, white surroundings as evidence that not much usually happens in its chosen locale. Lesley (Amy Morton) is a bus driver who goes to work every day not expecting much in the way of surprises, and she lives a simple and unassuming life. Discovering one of her passengers after failing to notice him the afternoon before is a devastating find that shatters her sense of tranquility and by extension her logging town’s feeling of safety and peace, immune to the loud rush of the world around it but not to its share of heartbreak.

There are no emotive characters in “Bluebird,” since everyone keeps their feelings bottled up and refuses to let things shake them. Lesley rarely verbalizes how she is feeling, hopeless even to offer a defense of her actions. Her husband Richard (John Slattery) has trouble externalizing his thoughts, spending most of his day working in a solitary environment without much human contact. Only Marla (Louisa Krause), the mother of the boy, does anything to deal with her frustrations, although her concerns seem to have little to do with the wellbeing of her child.

This film feels like an entirely familiar experience, and not one that begs to be lived again. There is a chilling sensation that never quite manages to materialize and take hold of the film, leaving it as an unengaging meditation on loss, guilt, and responsibility. Morton and Slattery are both good at portraying introspected people, but that doesn’t make their characters dynamic or accessible. Krause, familiar from “Toe to Toe” and “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” among others, is good, and always dependable TV faces Margo Martindale and Adam Driver contribute in small roles in the supporting cast. For a film about the permanence of one moment, however, this film contains no such scenes and fails to be impactful or memorable.


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