Book of Birdie review: A teenager’s fascination with the grotesque comes under threat as she moves into an isolated convent.
Book of Birdie review, Kat Hughes.
Birdie (Ilirida Memedovski), a delicate teenager with an overactive imagination and a flair for the macabre, finds herself placed in an isolated convent. Once there, she strikes up a tender relationship with fellow outcast, Julia (Kitty Hall), as well as the convent’s deceased sisters. Events spiral and, as Birdie’s obsession with the grotesque builds, she struggles to maintain her inner tranquillity.
Book of Birdie is one of those films that is hard to quantify. It blends so many genres and sub-genres that the result a real smorgasbord, and one that is truly unique. Primarily it seems to explore the tumultuous time of a girl becoming a woman, but also explores religion, obsession, love, spirituality, death and peace. It’s a lot to fit into one feature film and, whilst slightly confusing at times, shines in its uniqueness.
Featuring an almost all-female cast and crew, Book of Birdie is a beautifully shot indie that feels almost as though it should be hanging on a wall in a museum someplace. The colour palette is filled with contrasting black and whites, as well as a ton of red lighting. The intense ebony of Birdie’s hair contrasts against the brilliantly bright white of the snowy landscape, ensuring that both elements pop rather than one overpowering the other. Then there’s the blood. Blood in films, especially low budget ones, can look really fake, but not so with Book of Birdie. Given that the bodily fluid is essentially an extra character of the film, this is an especially important thing to get right. Care and attention has clearly been put into each and every frame, and it shows. Even those that get lost by the story will find plenty for their eyes to feast on.
The soundtrack to is an aural delight. Given the religious setting, most of the score and soundtrack is made up of choral choirs and haunty piano solos. When combined with the striking visuals, the result offers a spellbinding and almost whimsical layer.
Ilirida Memedovski is mesmerising in the titular role of Birdie. Part Wednesday Addams, part Beetlejuice era Winona Ryder, Birdie offers up this generation’s answer to both. Memedovski’s performance is nuanced and quiet. She plays Birdie as just that – a timid bird. It’s a beautiful and breathtaking performance that commands attention and hopefully points to a strong future career.
Despite all the blood, and there’s a lot of it, Book of Birdie has a surprising amount of oddly comedic moments. One such example would be that of Birdie casually conversing with one of the dearly departed sisters whom swings from a tree as Birdie tucks into some cookies.
Book of Birdie is a strange yet compelling movie. You’ll spend most of the run time scratching your head over exactly what is going on, but you’ll be completely captivated throughout.
Book of Birdie review, Kat Hughes, February 2018.
Book of Birdie screens as part of 2018’s Final Girls Berlin Film Festival.