The Hummingbird Project
13th October 2018 8.40pm at BFI Southbank
14th October 2018 8.40pm at odeontcr: Odeon Tottenham Court Road
21st October 2018 8.45pm at Picturehouse Central
Life is never a simple matter of getting from A to B, but in The Hummingbird Project that is quite literally what cousins Vincent and Anton Zaleski (Jesse Eisenberg and Alexander Skarsgård) want to do. Telling the tale of two men who plan to build a straight fibre optic line across the US that will give them the edge over the stock market, the new film from Kim Nguyen could almost be based on a true story – if it wasn’t so exciting.
Despite dealing with a topic that instinctively makes a lot of us want to snore, the director creates an impressively intriguing feature that tackles some interesting questions about corporate greed. Granted, he does include a rather stilted scene with a bartender – who helpfully wants to have the whole operation explained to her in detail – in order to get this message across. However, the moral of the story is clear, if clichéd: life is about the journey, not the destination, about quality and not speed.
Though it has the elements of a classic dramatic thriller and at times verges on the profound, the film is also strangely caricatured. In a humorous role reversal, Eisenberg is the extrovert – intoxicatingly ambitious, cocky – and Skarsgård the introvert – literally hunched into himself, the brains behind the operation. Salma Hayek is the completely one-sided evil ex-boss, a textbook villain who we half expect to spin round on her desk chair and reveal a white cat. This is not a comment on the quality of the cast; the performances all bring something fun and surprising to the table. However, as the picture flicks from celebratory dances and comic chases to critical illness and mental breakdowns, it becomes confused in tone – and totally perplexing.
The cinematography is more certain in its intent. Closeup shots of moss and sandy paving slabs give the impression of a vast bird’s-eye view of forests and deserts. As our sense of scale becomes warped, so too does our sense of perspective. A seemingly mammoth task becomes inconsequential. The image of the line itself features heavily throughout the film. The screen is split by ropes and computer monitors that drill through frames, faster and faster, building tension until, at the climax, we hit the inevitable breaking point.
The Hummingbird Project is anything but a smooth ride. It’s the definition of turbulence, a slightly dizzying thriller that twists and turns in unexpected directions until we forget where we were headed in the first place.
The Hummingbird Project does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2018 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.