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“Bye Bye Blackbird” Review – A Robinson Savary Film December 16, 2006

Posted by drowmage in Movie Reviews.

I recall sending in my review to the company before going freelance, for this really awesome movie. It’s a European movie, part of the European Film Festival they were having here in KL. Sadly, due to the inadequacies of the human race, it didn’t get publish, which stings because I waste my time with an ass-i-nine movie, and it gets publish instead. There’s no justice left in this world.

Review: Bye Bye Blackbird is a dark yet beautifully spun poetic tale about romance and dreams, set in France , in a circus which is slowly losing its ground to the flashier and more exciting musicals and cabaret shows of the late 20th century.

Josef (James Thiérrée) is a former construction worker who now works as a sweeper at the circus, and falls for the aerialist, Alice (Izabella Miko) and is befriended by the horseback performer, Nina (Jodhi May). One day, he defies death and gravity by doing an aerial display on the trapeze. When he is spotted by the big top’s owner, Lord Dempsey (Derek Jacobi), he is paired with Alice in a dangerous aerial display as part of a new act for the circus.

However, things turn tragic as an accident happens and Alice is declared dead, with the circus turned topsy turvy with the loss of their only profitable act and Josef going mad with grief, destroying the “White Angels” act.

With his first-time feature film, director Robinson Savary has beautifully created a movie, showing a romantic view of the circus life from the top. Sometimes slow, yet poignant, he chooses not to concentrate much on expanding the character of the other circus members; but leaving you glimpses of these characters and making you wonder how they came into this business. The cinematography by Christophe Beaucarne gives a poetic and artistic feel to the movie, mesmerizing the audience in its display. The movie is in English as well, so there’s no struggle trying to catch the subtitles here.

James Thiérrée choreographed the thrilling aerial sequences himself, sharing a gift for physical business just like his legendary grandfather, who happens to the late great Charlie Chaplin. Thiérrée also proves that his acting skills are not lacking as well, with his heartbreaking portrayal of Josef who degenerates dramatically from a ‘white angel’ to a moth-eaten ‘blackbird’ in his feathered costume.

Derek Jacobi is memorable in his portrayal of Lord Dempsey, who is Alice’s father, a hard-bitten circus owner who tries to keep the circus alive and business running, reminding one of the stage motto “The show must go on.”

Alice is portrayed by Izabella Miko as the aerial angel, caught between running away from the circus to a better life, or spending her precious moments in the air, never having to touch the ground. Many will remember Miko as the barmaid Cammie in the cult hit “Coyote Ugly”. Not too bad, though the director should have expanded her character a bit more as Miko seemed to be a little stiff during her aerial performances, shadowed by Thiérrée completely.

Jodhi May is a delight to watch Nina, who is immensely attracted to Josef, yet giving way to hiding her feelings for him as she watches his love-infused performance with Alice – yet standing by his side, suffering with him as he degenerates after Alice’s death. However, they should have had more interactions between Josef and Nina, as these two created a likable chemistry.

On a serious note of things, the film also reveals to you how dangerous it was in the old days, before safety nets and harnesses became a fixture during these circus performances. Death during performances was something of the norm back then, with people even taking bets to see if the man on tightrope would fall off.

“Dreams can be as hard as stones, it breaks a lot of bones… and hearts.”

The Drowmage Rates this at : Stars 4.5



1. shyama dutta - April 29, 2008

I just saw it yesterday, in the European film festival – here in India – Pune. It is a lovely film…and yes “we are all condemned….”

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