Film Review: “The Birdwatcher” (2016) ★★★


In most cases it’s relaxing to watch a film that does not overload you with too much information that you barely can go through. At some point, all what we need is to let the story flow, allow the protagonist’s character to grow, and us as viewers are almost like unscrupulous neighbors who watch their daily life through a window. Siobhan Devine‘s The Birdwatcher is that kind of movie that will make you feel comfortably enough to spend an hour and half of your time to watch something that’s not too a pleasant subject matter, but to witness life changing moments of its characters, that I am sure you will find too important…

Saffron is a young woman with two children whose anticipation of a long life will be disappointed by a lung cancer. Ongoing chemotherapy did not justify Saffron’s tremendous suffering but instead she gets another tumor spread in her system. Now, caught by shock and unexpected news, Saffron tries to figure out the future of her children she hopes won’t end up in an orphanage after her departure. The only person she thinks might help her to look after her children is a woman who she never met in her life – her birth-mother.

Screenplay written by Roslyn Muir does not take much time to develop the characters. As the story unfolds, you find Saffron as an extremely kind woman who looks after more vulnerable people. Her teenage daughter, however, does not seem that nice in the beginning, as one of her anger days, being unhappy that her mother was too tough on her says, “I hate you”. Well, can one say such a thing to someone whose life may be interrupted soon? Lucy, her daughter, by that time was hopeless as can one expect, otherwise, how else you would be able to explain the harshness of the moment she had?

Saffron soon finds out that her mother Birdy is a Birdwatcher. And that she had dedicated her entire life to Mother Nature, her beauty, and the species she seems more comfortable communicating with. When Saffron takes her children to camping to the area where her mother is, shortly after she will regret about her attempt, as Birdy does not seem to want to have anything in common with a young woman, who as it happened, that she gave birth to many years ago.

The Birdwatcher is a movie about a woman who’s dying of cancer. However, it leaves her sickness aside, and explores her emotional side, where its heroine thinks more about her children than herself – her constant smoking of cigarettes is heavy evidence of that. The movie itself is easy to watch. Even though you feel that it may not end up well, which the storyline never appeared to be so, it never attempts to misguide the audience. The only mystery is Birdy, who now must face reality and in the possible future she must do something she never wanted – to look after children, her grandchildren.

Overall, The Birdwatcher is a pleasantly surprising movie. Its narrative is friendly and acceptable for a wider audience, however, it may never reach that far. It’s main goal is to deliver the minimum – to tell the story of a complicated relationship and that things one day may change. And if the one is destined to be united or reunited with the family, that will also happen with the right amount of attempts that one day will pay off.

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