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Bird Box Review: Great Beginning Of The Year For Movie Watchers

Subhash K . Jha

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BBird Box(Netflix)

Starring Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, Sara Paulson

Directed  by Sussane Bier

Rating: *** ½(3 and a half stars)

 After an unprecedented  2018,  this is  a great way to begin 2019. A ballsy  post-apocalyptic drama which  brought me   close to falling off my seat  on several  occasions, Bird Box is that thriller which we all  have been waiting for, but none of  us knew where  to look.  It’s  stylish,noire-ish  whimsical , woefully predictable  at  times and  yet has room for emotional lubrication.

There  is scope for  lugubriousness. But  director Sussane  Brier avoids all excesses of emotional  violence, as  Malorie(Sandra Bullock) sets  off on  long river journey with her two small children  (born  on the same day, though not twins, if you will!) to escape  sure-death in the hands of an unidentifiable  presence that has gripped the globe.

No, it doesn’t kill. It just makes everyone commit suicide.

 Verging on  the  outrageous,  Bird Box pulls back from toppling over just in time every time it’s threatened by  a narrative lunacy. Partly the credit for keeping the proceedings credible  goes to the  performances, not just Bullock who is  fine,though I did have a problem accepting trauma on  that over-chiselled  face. The  other actors specially Tom Hollander who appears midway as  a scarily sinister stranger and the brilliant  John Malkovich in  whose sprawling home Malorie and a ragged bunch of holocaust survivors take  refuge.

At times  the  plot thickens to a  congealed mass of murderous images  meant only to shock. Also some of  the  plot  is  pure ham , like two women in the sprawling  house of  survival giving  birth to babies at  the same  time. But it seems  outrageous that characters who lose their loved ones minutes ago(Bullock loses sister  Sarah  Paulson  a second time after  Oceans 8). Also that all love-shove thing happening between Malorie and a gentle African American Tom(Trevante Rhodes) was  a bit too much of inclusiveness  at a time when the world seems to be  ending.

When the  narrative is  not busy being a cool  student  of  the ghoul school   it succeeds  in making us  invest  in  the characters’ fear and anxiety as they are plundered  by forces  they cannot control. Happily  the  narration does not suffer from a  lack of manoeuvring  control. Director  Biers never loses sight of  the  plot’s  denouement  as Mallory and her two children row to  intended safety blindfolded.

I was delighted to see Parminder Nagra, Gurinder Chadha’s  football-playing heroine in Bend It  Like Beckham  cast as  gynecologist. And  wow, Parminder  even returns  for a second scene  at the end. Two scenes  for an  Indian actor.We  Indians are really making inroads  into the Western  cinema.Slowclap.

Bird Box is beautifully shot, and shows no sign of cost cutting  for its  shrunken screen  format. And that  is not  necessarily  a reason to rejoice. In both Netflix’s Roma  and now Bird Box I  felt a big-screen  experience had been diminished by an economical compromise. But then we can’t really crib about the size, even  it matters.

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