Are you satisfied with your life right now? Are you happy? Aren’t you sick of the daily grind at work or in school? “Bird People” tells the story about real people that have had enough of their jobs and the dream to fly and to be free like a bird. A poetical and wonderful story about what life should be about, it gives us a reality check that we should be living more instead of just existing.
This French drama by Pascale Ferran was released June 4, 2014, and is also available in French, English, and Japanese. Josh Charles is starring as the Silicon Valley engineer Gary Newman and Anaïs Demoustier is Audrey Camuzet, a French chambermaid who is working in a hotel nearby the airport Charles de Gaulle, Paris.
The film opens with people walking in different directions at the airport in Charles de Gaulle; then Audrey spots a sparrow outside her window. This is the first hint of what might be to come and the first scene relating to the title of the movie. Then there is the cut to Gary’s arrival in Paris and him planning to just stay for a meeting and then continuing his travels to Dubai where he is supposed to be the day after. His stay in Paris will be a life-altering stopover. After a sleepless night, he decides to quit his job and leave his wife Elisabeth and his kids behind in San Francisco, where they have been living a good and wealthy life. The cause for this abrupt decision will not become fully clear, but the break-up scene through Skype helps us to understand that Elisabeth and Gary’s relationship hasn’t been perfect over the past few years.
While Gary is staying longer than he had actually planned to, we follow Audrey’s cleaning routines in the hotel. She always opens the window first and then starts to tidy up. The act of opening the window will play an important role in the further development of the story. After Audrey stumbles upon Gary’s room and finds out that he is planning to stay a couple more days, we would expect a fairy-tale love story of the two meeting accidentally and falling in love with each other. But the story will have a turnover, finally including the birds the title is referencing. Following this specific point, the story turns from a genuine truth, daily grind and people like you and me to a long-expected fairy-tale romance, but still down-to-earth part and outcome.
Ferran’s film is a masterpiece of the use of camera drones and visual effects. I loved the authenticity of the actors. With a touch of humor, Ferran leads you through this very emotional and sometimes poetic moment of life of two completely different people. Gary, a wealthy businessman with a life that seems perfect with a wife and kids in San Francisco; and Audrey, a hardworking chambermaid with little income and a small apartment. The drama will leave you puzzled for the first few moments after the film has finished, but thinking about the abstractness a little closer will help you interpret the most accurate and beautiful facts and connections. For example, the use of both French and English and how they relate to each other—what specific word translations mean and what conflicts a foreign language can bear; the little lies of the characters to themselves and the wonderful presence of poetics while Audrey sees her potential transformation which will give her an existence, freedom, and lightness.
A film of simplicity about real people and their traits, problems, and dreams; about being free and achieving the lightness of life. A story to dream—it lets you forget about the world around you. You just fly, like a bird…
Photo courtesy of IFC/Sundance Selects