Movie Review: Birds Without Feathers
At the Edge of Despair and Disillusionment
Rating: 3 out of 5
Wow, what a weird movie. At the end, I was left feeling a gaping hole in my heart. An emptiness.
There are six central characters grappling with a sense of loneliness and identity in a bleak surreality.
Janet, the central character, wants to be an Instagram star. She has huge doe eyes that appear forlorn. Her boyfriend, Sam, is a struggling stand-up comic who is brash with her.
A highschool acquaintance, Jo, re-connects with Janet in the desert and the two share some wonderfully strange scenes together. I enjoyed their dynamic the most. Sometimes they seemed to be friends. Other times, enemies. At times there was an imbalance of power between the two. And then, the balance would swap.
Then there is Marty, a nurse's aide, and Dan, a self-help guru, who ironically has a depressed and desperate air about him like he really wants to believe what he's espousing, and finally Tom, an immigrant obsessed with American cowboy culture who denies his clearly Slavic accent.
The story line was linear, but difficult to follow at times because I didn't understand what had occurred in the scene. Despite a lack of cognitive understanding, the scenes were beautifully and artistically rendered such that my emotions followed the story.
The mood was set by strange scenes with sparse dialogue. An eerie quietness pervades the film. The characters express sadness, longing, isolation, desperation, emptiness, and disillusionment broken up by rare moments of laughter, connection, and intimacy.
The colors are muted and pale, shades of grey, blues, and desert tones are the palette of this movie, just like the characters who are wispy, yet dramatic. Each filled with intensity of longing. They look to others to fulfill this yearning, and yet this is never realized.
The scenes were beautiful and original but the overarching story felt empty. Some of the characters were well developed, while I had zero connection with the others, like Marty.
At the end of the movie, I was left wondering what the hell I watched, while also fondly recalling the scene in the desert, Janet and Jo dancing in pantaloons, Dan running off with the escort, and the collapse of Tom at dinner with Jeff Goldbloom. I felt the desperation, despair, and loneliness of the characters.
The viewer doesn’t get the satisfaction of a happy ending. Everyone retreats back into their respective storylines, their lives continuing on in the sepia haze of disillusioned life in isolation and unrequited dreaming.
How to Watch: Living minimally and meaningfully, I use the resources that are available to me. While many of my housesitting gigs come with a Netflix and Amazon Prime account, I am rarely interested in the selection that come with these options.
Netflix and Amazon Prime are saturated with junk whose purpose is to cast a wide net, to give the viewer as many options as possible, quality be damned. Due to this, I would say that many shows and movies on these platforms are trite, following a common trope that is overused and underwhelming.
The best option for streaming good films is Kanopy, and no, “good” is not subjective in this case. This platform is the Go-To to “Stream Classic Cinema, Independent Film and Top Documentaries”. It is where I find all these wonderful, weird movies to watch that you won’t find on the bloated behemoths, Netflix or Amazon.
So go to your local library and sign up for a membership if you haven’t already. Then, check out what resources they have available for patrons. It is likely they have TONS of resources, including free access to streaming platforms like Kanopy. I have a Boston Library card and have so many amazing resources in addition to books.
Read my last movie review here for Captain Fantastic.