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‘Penguin Bloom’ Review – A Poignant Family Drama

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Sometimes life can beat you down in a way that could make you wary of people who you love the most. ‘Penguin Bloom’ is about a woman, a wife, a mother, who cannot walk after a freak accident; chained to a wheelchair, her body becomes a prison and her self-loathing festers into despising her own family. However, she learns to live a little more after her sons adopt an injured magpie called Penguin. It’s based on a real life story.

Directed by Glendyn Ivin, this family drama follows the Bloom family and is narrated by the eldest son Noah Bloom (Griffin Murray-Johnston), who recalls how his mother Sam changes into a different person after she loses her ability to walk. She has no will to do anything and chooses to spend time inside the house as an invalid. “You are not enough. The children are not enough” she says teary eyed in a moving scene to her husband Cameron (Andrew Lincoln). The makers don’t shy away from showing just how negatively an accident can impact someone’s life. It’s not all roses and inspirational music. Things we think but never say are said in this film.

The strongest point of ‘Penguin Bloom’ is the scenic cinematography which captures the blue shores of Australia beautifully. A lot of the story is shot inside the Bloom’s home, which is a spacious sunny space, that exudes a positive aura. The contrasting symbolism is brought out nicely – despite having a lovely home in a gorgeous beach town, with a caring husband & three sweet little boys, Sam Bloom is unable to look at the brighter side of things. It takes a little bird to finally teach her that all is not lost.

Naomi Watts portrays Sam with all her heart, and Andrew Lincoln shines in his role as her supportive spouse, his acting needs special mention, because it was very hard to like him as the protagonist in the ‘Walking Dead’ series. Actor Jacki Weaver who plays Sam Bloom’s mother was quite endearing as the worry-wart mother who doesn’t know how to be politically correct. The bird Penguin Bloom is the definite hero of this film. While watching it, one might wonder if it’s all special effects, but according to the makers, 80% of the scenes with the bird were all real. One has to applaud bird trainer Paul Mander, who made it all possible.

‘Penguin Bloom’ is a largely serious film, peppered with some touching family moments, with an adorable bird to boot. It might not be the ‘fun friday film’ you are looking for, but it makes for a nice pick to watch with the family. Warning – expect some waterworks, because a few scenes might make you emotional.

It’s a 8/10 from me. Because honestly, I expected the film to be depressing, dreary and slow, but instead, it was moving, sweet and poignant.

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