Monday, December 15, 2014

Bluebird Review: Remarkable Slice Of Life Regional Economic Crisis Cinema

 With the advent of the new year right now, some sobering matters that are old remain on a rather grim and portentous horizon. And one of those still very much looming issues is the bleak economic outlook in this country, and new films appearing which may inevitably still reflect just that.

Among them is an exquisitely lensed regional dramatic feature, Bluebird. Unfolding during a harsh, punishing Maine winter in a remote logging town, Bluebird evokes in subtle and lyrical yet crushing tones like the weight of the logged trees themselves, a tragic accident visited upon school bus driver and working mother Lesley (Amy Morton).

Barely making ends meet along with her about to be laid off logger husband Rich (John Slattery), Lesley is fatefully distracted one day by a bluebird trapped after flying through her bus window. The metaphorical whimsical longing for flight juxtaposed with a suppressed undercurrent of despair imprisoning both of them, requires few words to then eventually evolve into a group portrait of a town of collectively economically thwarted lives. 

And though sharing common elements with Atom Egoyan's likewise tragic 1997 school bus drama, The Sweet Hereafter, first time Maine filmmaker Lance Edmands' Bluebird has a distinct set of issues on its mind nearly a decade later and mirroring a different century. Including the diminishing employment options of workers and especially women - consigned to juggling multiple roles in life, not to mention a spontaneous maternal instinct to protect the species; and the cruelty of fate, particularly class fate, epitomized as a microcosm in this emotionally and economically drained town.

In other words, ultimately more than just the story of an unfortunate accident - but about everything not accidental, under capitalism. And encapsulating those experiences in Bluebird's opening quote, from Henry David Thoreau's The Maine Woods: '...I stand in awe of my body. This matter to which I am bound has become so strange to me.'

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