History can, should and does teach us a great many things, if we elect to listen of course, and, as long as history has interesting stories to tell, movies will be made about those events.
So, with the world going into lockdown due to Covid-19, as clear as night follows day, writers and directors will create movies about the pandemic.
However, can you make a movie about an event, even an event as large as Covid-19, when it is still going on and, in the UK at least, the lockdowns are less than 12-months ago?
Writers Elizabeth Morris (“Killers Anonymous”, “Abducted”) and Dominic Wells (“Dotty (Short)”, “Colonel Badd (Short)”) and long time producer, first time director Kirsty Bell have done just that with: A Bird Flew In.
A Bird Flew In is an ensemble film about British and American actors and crew dealing with lockdown. It follows different couples and singles as they navigate this unprecedented time, what it means for each of them and how it affects them all.
We have Diane, Sadie Frost (“Bram Stoker’s Dracula”, “Love, Honour and Obey”), the ‘star’ of the movie, the sort who appears to have everything, but the reality is very different. She drinks, heavily, and makes clips on social media which are really more cries for help.
There’s Peter, Jeff Fahey (“Alita: Battle Angel”, “Lost (TV)”), the American who, with his wonderfully gravelly voice, reads us poems and phrases. We hear his thoughts but also the letters he’s writing to Anna, Julie Dray (“Avenue 5 (TV)”, “War of the Worlds (TV)”), a French actress he’s fallen in love with.
Anna is over in France and having a hard time with a former lover, looking forward to Peter’s next letter, whilst Peter lounges in his flat, writing on his typewriter and making notes in his pad.
In the South of France there’s David, Derek Jacobi (“Murder on the Orient Express”, “The Host”), a revered actor who has his medication brought to him by Marie, Frances Barber (“Goal!”, “Mr. Holmes”).
David is scared about the pandemic, about his illness but, despite this, he’s doing what he can to help Diane see herself how he sees her; a beautiful woman with an amazing talent. Sadly, this isn’t how Diane sees herself at all.
The movie’s director, Naomi, Kirsty Bell, has problems of her own with her husband Drew, Bill Fellows (“Ted Lasso (TV)”, “Broadchurch (TV)”), on the other side of the world, not being the most faithful, or nice, of husbands.
He regularly calls, but is abrupt, rude and freely admits he’s been with other women. He also forgets Naomi’s birthday, all of which sees her reach the end of her tether.
Then there’s Rebecca, Camilla Rutherford (“Yesterday”, “Phantom Thread”), who is working with the editor Lucy, Morgana Robinson (“The Witches”, “The Windsors (TV)”). In reality Naomi has set Rebecca and Lucy up, knowing they’d like each other.
This works well, the two get on, even arrange to meet, until Lucy’s mother contracts Covid-19, and Lucy, understandably, withdraws from the world. Leaving them both in a state of despair.
We also have Rick, Daniel Ward (“Palace (Short)”) and Ari, Sophie Kennedy Clark (“Sweetness in the Belly”, “Lucid”), who learn they are about to have a baby, but only one of them is happy about this.
Rick wants the baby, he’s sure they can make it work, he’ll do his share. Ari however, is not convinced, maybe it’s not just the baby, maybe it is, but she does not want it and she’s not sure if she still wants him.
Finally, there’s Miles, Micheal Winder (“Misfits (TV)”, “Set the Thames on Fire”), a man with OCD who is watching his former partner Trish, Nikita Mehta (“Blinded by the Light”, “Boogie Man”), on some cameras in her flat.
It’s odd, of course it is, and he’s repulsed when she begins to get undressed for bed, turning over until she’s done. When he sees her looking at a photo of him and then getting upset, he calls her, begins to show her he can change.
If this all sounds a lot to fit into a little over an hour and a half, it is, but Bell does well to give everyone their fair share of the movie though, naturally, it is only a small snapshot of what is happening in their lives.
Shot in black and white, for reasons I’m not entirely clear on if I’m honest, A Bird Flew In is nicely directed, there are some beautiful aerial shots for instance, though personally I was less impressed with the shaky cam on show throughout.
What really makes A Bird Flew In though, what keeps you watching, are the performances from all involved. Everyone is on their a-game and works wonders with their small segments.
Having said that, and whilst I can understand the decision to have a wide range of people and situations, I do wonder if perhaps focussing on just a few of the storylines may have made the viewer feel more invested.
As it is, with so many stories and with the pandemic still ongoing, still raw for many of us who have lost people, A Bird Flew In feels like perhaps it is too soon to tell this story and perhaps there’s too many stories to tell in an hour and a half.
5th November 2021
THE QUICK SELL
When Lockdown is imposed and film production shuts down, the cast and crew are sent home - alone.
CAST & CREW
Bill Fellows, Camilla Rutherford, Daniel Ward, Derek Jacobi, Dominic Wells, Elizabeth Morris, Jeff Fahey, Julie Dray, Kirsty Bell, Michael Winder, Morgana Robinson, Nikita Mehta, Sadie Frost, Sophie Kennedy Clark