Shudder UK film review: A Bluebird in My Heart
Martyn Conterio | On 15, Nov 2019Reading time: 2 mins
Director: Jérémie Guez
Cast: Roland Møller, Veerle Baetens, Lola Le Lann, Lubna Azabal
Watch A Bluebird in My Heart: Shudder UK
Released from prison in France and made to wear an ankle bracelet during his probation period, Danish thug Danny (Roland Møller) takes refuge in a cheap motel managed by an improbably hot divorcee, who’s struggling to keep a rein on a teenaged daughter flirting with dangerous local crooks and scoring free pot from them.
A laconic, Clint Eastwood-y type mysterious figure with a great big bushy beard, Danny looks less brought into the world by a mother and father and more built out of ancient granite and painstakingly sculpted into human form by millions of years of exposure to the elements – then brought charitably to life by fire from the gods. The mythic aura and menacing physical stature of the character (this bro certainly lifts) symbolises the film’s thematic concern with those tragically destined to stand alone in society. And just so you get the thematic preoccupations memo, director Guez uses the occasional appearance of a mangy stray dog to equate to Danny’s place in an uncaring world.
The ex-con wants to keep out of trouble, but his best laid plans are upended when he befriends teenager Clara (Jérémie Guez, of course, cast a typically sullen and pouty French starlet), although Danny makes it clear he likes women his own age, just so there’s no misunderstanding about his motives. The plot eventually contrives to show this man’s dark side and willing propensity for a bit of the old ultra-violence. Danny’s tragedy is this: he’s destined to cause harm even when he’s acting honourably.
Guez’s A Bluebird in My Heart is an attempt at delivering a moody, pared-back noir thriller about the duality of man. Its concerns are almost Peckinpah-esque, though lacking poetry or offering any new discourse on self-destructive savagery; Danny’s relationship dynamic with a trio of females – Clara, her mother and the owner of a diner where he finds work washing dishes – are cornily handled.
Danny is a brutal chap, but we never really know what makes him tick or what causes him to react the way he does. Another problem with A Bluebird in My Heart is extremely derivative story set-up. It’s one we’ve seen a million times before, and with better – more satisfying – results. Classic western Shane (1953) or Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive (2011), for example.
Overall, this is a slight work, but not without merit: the chief success is Møller, who exudes a frightening physicality and inherent menace, and Guez makes good use of urban locations, the kinds of grey, drab conurbations that get disciples of psycho-geography all hot and bothered.
A Bluebird in My Heart is available on Shudder UK, as part of a £4.99 monthly subscription.