If you take a deep dive into Netflix’s catalogue, you’re bound to find some obscure movie that will make you ask why it never landed on your homepage. It has a decent cast, an interesting trailer, and a title you wouldn’t be able to make sense of before watching the film. So why did you have to scroll for hours just to find it?
Earthquake Bird has all of this, which made it compelling enough to be watched. Starring Alicia Vikander, the film is set in ‘80s Japan and revolves around the life of Lucy Fly, a translator who’s been living in Japan for a little over five years. She gets involved in a passionate romance with a photographer who has an air of mystery around him; the rest is history.
Technically, it looks like a good film. You can tell that the person behind the camera knows what they’re doing, the cinematography is compelling, and the story itself is good; but the execution of it leaves much to be desired.
It starts with a missing person, as most mysteries do, and Lucy is caught in the middle of the investigation. Her story is told through an interrogation sequence supported by flashbacks that are at times confusing but easy enough to follow. Lucy herself isn’t that reliable as a narrator—she sees things, her feelings are all over the place. But even through this chaos, she still ends up being bland.
You never find yourself rooting for her, her friends, or even her boyfriend that she apparently has deep feelings for. What’s marketed as a passionate romance isn’t that passionate at all, so when the big twist at the end comes, the audience is left feeling okay at most. Definitely not that shocked.
As a film that’s been adapted from a novel, it’s understandable that Earthquake Bird isn’t able to express certain things through the screen. Some mediums are just better for certain stories than others. Watch it for the nice cinematography, for the tension between Vikander and Riley Keough, the pretty scenery of 1989 Japan. It’s a decent movie to put on an afternoon when you don’t know what to watch, but don’t expect it to change your life.
‘Earthquake Bird’ is available on Netflix.