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Penguin Bloom Movie Review - Flight Of Fantasy

Glendyn Ivin's film is nothing short of wizardry. 


A mother succumbs to despair after being paralyzed by falling from a roof in Thailand (she was there with her family for a vacation). Her name is Sam Bloom (Naomi Watts). A quick intro gives a glimpse of her life before the accident - a loving mother, a jolly individual, and a passionate surfer. The story, recounted by younger son Noah (Griffin Murray-Johnston) to his camcorder, cuts to the mishap from different angles. In one flashback, you see them going to the roof; in another, you hear a scream. Penguin Bloom takes time before giving a view of Sam's body lying on the floor. That is because Noah blames himself for the unfortunate incident (it was his idea to go on the roof). We steadily cut to the various viewpoints of the accident before looking down at the fallen victim because Noah flinches to grapple with the shock that transpired unexpectedly.


He has two little brothers, Rueben (Felix Cameron) and Oli (Abe Clifford-Barr), who sneak out during a fight or make comments like "has mum gone crazy?" when the situation heats up a little. Meanwhile, the cool-headed husband, Cameron (Andrew Lincoln), makes sure no dispute comes close to tearing apart the whole family. Cameron is a very understanding husband. His instincts after seeing a mess of broken picture frames - done by Sam - is not anger but comprehension. "Yeah, I get it. That you want to erase yourself," he says. Cameron feels Sam's pain. However, he wants her to step out of the gloomy room and embrace the warm sunlight shining outside their home. It's a picturesque location, something you would definitely want to share with your loved ones. 


If Sam rejects the offer, the reason lies in her will to hide her "imperfection." She is not confident about her current disability, especially in front of their children. Parents can move mountains to care for their kids but cannot bear the thought of letting them see their parents as someone in need of help. And the boys here are still very young. When Cameron, out of genuine concern, asks Sam how's she feeling, she tells him to not repeat the question again in front of the children as it sends a message to them that their mother is weak. No mother would want that. While we are talking of mothers, Sam's mum, Jan (Jacki Weaver), is a relatable character. Moms like her exist in our reality. She labels the handicap sticker as "convenient" for getting a place for parking. "You're not spastic," she openly mentions, ignoring the discomfort the s-word brings with it. At the table, Jan keeps bringing up some fatal circumstances to criticize Cameron. It doesn't mean she is bad (her bitter words come from a place of love). No one in Penguin Bloom is bad. They all are people coming to terms with an accident. It's never merely the sufferer in pain—the effect of catastrophe ripples in the family. 


As this is Sam's story, it is she who needs to accept herself. The changes will automatically follow. Enter an injured Magpie chick for the healing process. Noah finds the bird at the beach and brings it home. She is given the name Penguin. A parallel track involving the flight of this bird is played alongside Sam's arc. You know how it will go. That's not a surprise. The surprise lies in Glendyn Ivin's direction. On paper, this script (based on a true story) has the necessary ingredients of a soapy melodrama. A bird acting as a bridge to the process of recovery sounds mystical. And yet, Ivin pulls off the impossible: to convert something fantastical into the borders of reality. Never did this viewer get the impression of watching a fantasy. Yes, it is inspired by a true story, but a narrative like this could have easily been molded into a make-believe illusion. One suspects it could have been the case, at least on the paper. Ivin is aware of the dreamlike quality of the source material. He also knows it originates from actuality. Balancing betwixt the two, the director creates a stunning film that never grows to be flimsy. 

It becomes easier to swallow an account where a Magpie chick (considered one of the most intelligent animals in the world) introduces faith within a debilitated human. You smile when Penguin - like a toddler - smashes objects while roaming around the interiors. Like a dutiful mom, Sam follows behind to take control. It helps that the actors live the life instead of performing for the camera. Together they slip into the Bloom family rather than trying to play a fictitious version of the original ménage. How magical it is! You believe that the air will make you swim. You believe that the water will make you fly. You believe that two different species can become blood relatives.         

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from Movie Reviews https://moviesinmydna.blogspot.com/2021/01/penguin-bloom-movie-review-flight-of.html
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