penguin bloom

★★★

director: Glendyn Ivin (last song)

starring: naomi watts, andrew lincoln, rachel house and jacki weaver

 

REVIEWER: lyall carter

A photographer and his family find hope and solace in an injured magpie chick.

While we may have seen these kinds of films before - the triumph of the human spirit in spite of overwhelming odds, Penguin Bloom is still a beautiful film with heartwarming moments of joy and triumph for all to behold. 

 

Based on the best-selling book of the same name, the film tells the story of Sam Bloom (Academy Award nominated Naomi Watts) a young mother whose world is turned upside down after a shocking, near-fatal accident leaves her paralyzed. Sam's husband, (Andrew Lincoln), her three young boys and her mother (Academy Award nominated Jacki Weaver), are struggling to adjust to their new situation when an unlikely ally enters their world in the form of an injured baby magpie they name Penguin. The bird's arrival is a welcome distraction for the Bloom family, eventually making a profound difference on Sam's life, teaching her how to live again.

 

There is nothing more powerful than a true story. We return to them time and time again in a variety of forms including the cinematic. Although Penguin Bloom has a lot of similarities with films of this particular genre, emotional signposts throughout the film that we’ve seen before, there is a beautiful uniqueness to this film that lays in the family dynamics and their adopted magpie Penguin. 

 

While the crux of the movie is devoted to Sam and her struggles with her paralysis, both mental and physical, it is painted on the broad canvas of family. Throughout the film we see the impact of Sam’s accident not only on her husband and children but also on her wider family. When Cameron, Sam’s husband, describes the impact that her accident has had on him, not knowing whether he’s caring enough or not giving her enough independence, prepare for the tears to start to fall. 

 

Their adopted magpie Penguin not only impacts Sam’s life, the bird is something for her to take care of and nurture, it also mirrors Sam and her family’s journey from heartbreak to triumph. The scenes with the magpie are beautifully shot and at times are quite slap-stick and comical and will certainly bring the chuckles. 

 

Naomi Watts is wonderful in the role of Sam, perfectly capturing the anger, frustrations and ultimate triumph over her accident. Andrew Lincoln, equally wonderful as her husband Cameron, brings a real solidness to the cast and to their family. New Zealand’s only Rachel House also brings some much needed humour to the film with all the warmth that we have come to love from her.

 

While we may have seen these kinds of films before - the triumph of the human spirit in spite of overwhelming odds, Penguin Bloom is still a beautiful film with heartwarming moments of joy and triumph for all to behold.

★★★

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